25 Mar 2014

The Engine Wars: Numbers

So this years GDC did indeed not disappoint – lots of great talks, meetings and announcements. Thanks for saying hi if you did – if not, maybe next year. Of the announcements, I would like to just focus on the engine ones here.


Unity 5 was announced with a great feature set, Unreal 4 was released to the public on an attractive subscription license (including full source) and the same for CryEngine (though no source).

This heavy escalation of the engine wars means that now more than ever, the choice of tech to startups and indies is about tech rather than numbers.

However the numbers are not exactly transparent or directly comparable and not all information is out there yet (especially for CryEngine). I have done my best to collect the available information, but please let me know if something is off or missing.

  • CryEngine is now available (no source) for indies at 9.9 $/€ per seat, per month.
  • Unreal4 is available (source included) at $19 per seat, per month, plus 5% revenue share on gross sales (meaning you get 65% payout from iOS sales in stead of 70% for instance).
  • Unity5 has no change in its licensing model (providing more options, also rendering it more confusing) – it has a free version (some features locked away), a rental and an up-front model – no revenue share or source on any of them. One core difference in the rental model for Unity is that you always bind for 12 months.

The balance of the new CryEngine and Unreal offers in general over Unity is that most of the cost can be deferred to after sales, where Unity in general is up-front payment.


In the form below you can adjust number of seats, duration of production and expected gross sales to see how this will affect the product prices. Note that the rows starting with “+” are added to the base cost.


Duration (months)

Gross sales

CryEngine 1 Unity5 Unity5 pro Unity5 sub Unreal4 4
Base $0
+ Android $0 $0 $0
+ iOS 2 $0 $0 $0
+ WinPhone 8 N/A $0 $0 $0 N/A
+ Blackberry N/A $0 $0 $0 N/A
+ Web/GL N/A $0 $0 $0 $0
+ PS4 2 Call us 3 N/A Call Sony 5 Call Sony 5 Call us 3
+ XboxOne 2 Call us 3 N/A $0 $0 Call us 3
+ WiiU 2 Call us 3 N/A $0 $0 Call us 3

1 : On CryEngine:

  • While “Base” means Linux, Mac and Windows for the others, CryEngine does not support Mac and Linux.
  • Not a lot of details are available on licensing at this time.
  • It would seem that the as-a-service model has a company income limit – similar to Unity free being unavailable for $100k+ companies.

2 : iOS and consoles require registering with platform owner

3 : “Call us” most likely means old-school licensing as in up-front large cash payment / larger rev-share or a mix.

4 : Keep in mind that since revenue share for Unreal4 is taken of gross, any publisher or investor deal involving revenue share will relatively scale your effective cost of the engine share.

5 : Sony has not promised outright to cover license expenses like Microsoft and Nintendo, but are likely to.

Also keep in mind that none of the providers are closed to the idea of doing tailored quotes on bulk or custom deals. This post is mostly intended for startups and indies who generally would not receive such quotes.


I hope you find this useful and again – this is what I could find. Do please let me know if something is missing or off.

New Gear
Unity, iOS, TeamCity, AppCenter
RAID0 NVMe on Ubuntu
A Change of Gears
Unity Protocol Buffers
Behave 2.7
Behave 2.6
Trusted Gear
Mad Mash Versioning
Behave 2.5
Behave 2.4
The Engine Wars: Numbers
GDC 14: The Quest For Fun
Moving in Unity
Behave 2.3
Unity and .net assemblies
Behave 2.2
Behave 2.1
Behave 2.0
Unity Hacks: Dual sticks
Unity Hacks: Cameras
Unity Hacks: Touch gestures
Unite 13 video "Unity Hacks" available
The implicit local network interface
Talks and progress
Five years of Unity expertise looking for contracts
Automagic Unity Android Java gadget OF DOOM!
Invading Planet from your couch
Mountain Lion and laggy bluetooth and duct-tape
Unite 12 video and new videos section available
Asia Bootcamp videos now available
Path is now MIT licensed
Behave 1.4 released
So I've been a bit busy lately
Behave 1.3 released
IGDA Unity SIG slides
Second Unity IGDA SIG this evening: Scene construction and AI
First IGDA Unity SIG this evening
Alternative licensing available
Pathfinding in two lines
Path 2 released
Assembling and assimilating
Path 2 intro screencast
Path 2 beta release for GGJ
AIgameDev master class video now online
Expanding beta
Behave AIgameDev master class public stream
Behave master class on open AIgameDev stream tomorrow
Interview with AIGameDev
New video: From tree to code
Issue tracking on github Behave release project
IT University Copenhagen Unity course completed
IT University Copenhagen Unity course files Thursday
CPH IT University Unity course files
Behave 1.2 released
Video: Behave - starting from scratch
Behave runtime documentation updated
Behave 1.1 released
FAFF cleanup: Sketch
Building a menu of delegates and enums
Pick me! Pick me!
Optimising coroutine yielding in C#
Downloading the hydra
New license of Path: GPL
GUI drag-drop
Logging an entire GameObject
I bet you can't type an A!
Where did that component go?
New and improved: Behave 1.0 released
Behave 0.3b and unity 2.5
Behave 0.3b hotfix
Path tutorial video available
Path 1.0 launched!
Continued community tutorials
Community tutorial
New tutorial
First tutorial available
Behave 0.3b
unite '08 open-mic session
Behave 0.2b
Behave 0.1b
Behave pre-release
Path beta 0.3b
Path beta 0.2b
Path beta 0.1b
Path pre-release