Epic Games' Steve Polge told Edge Magazine that despite the openness of the Unreal Tournament 4 project, the company will still define the basic game and its mechanics. He said Epic will make sure that the core game is awesome while also encouraging the community to buy into the direction that both parties establish together.
Last week Epic announced that the next Unreal Tournament installment will be completely free. The company will generate revenue through an in-game marketplace, a place where gamers, modders, and developers can purchase and sell content and mods. Sales stemming from the marketplace products will be split between the modder/creator and Epic.
"A lot of companies spend tens of thousands of hours of development on a game and only then do market research testing to determine what people like," he tells the magazine. "From that point, it's hard to pivot. Especially with Unreal Tournament, we have fans that have been passionate about the franchise for years and have valuable insight and opinions about how we should evolve. Getting that from day one is going to help us make a better experience, with them and for them."
Edge asked if the decision to go free with UT4 was a reflection of a wider industry trend. Polge said that "free" is definitely where Epic is "placing its bets."
"We like the model because it's fundamentally generous," he tells Edge. "It allows us to succeed by doing the right thing for the community, and then the value naturally comes back. That's a lot more attractive to us than the old build, ship and pray model."
He told the magazine that Unreal Tournament is uniquely well-suited for transparent, inclusive game development. The franchise is well-established and tailor-made for distributed development, as seen with the previous Unreal Tournament games. Fans have "enriched prior incarnations with player-made maps, mods and other content."
"A lot of this is brand new for Epic, and we don't yet have everything figured out," Polge said last week. "Things will probably definitely go wrong from time to time, and when they do, we'll have to work through them together. There will be a lot of tough decisions to make, and not every feature will make it into the game. But if you're a fan of Unreal Tournament, a UE4 developer, or a future modder – or if you just want to learn how we make games – we hope you'll join us. It's going to be fun."
To read Edge's partial interview, head here.