In March, Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4 dropped its $19 monthly fee and made it free to use. This means that anyone from amateurs to small development teams could use some of the latest technology in the industry to bring their creations to millions of users.
As part of the effort, Epic also created the Unreal Dev Grants, a program that awarded notable projects using the Unreal Engine 4 anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 in funding from an overall pool of $5 million. The latest winners didn't use the software to make a traditional game for consoles or PC. Instead, they're using it for less conventional means such as VR development and movie production.
Nagapi is a production company that was awarded $20,000 for its upcoming project, a CG movie based on the graphic novel Outlaws by Jason Edwards, a head of the company. The movie follows bounty hunter Liv Anders as she goes up against a crime lord while also fighting her own personal demons.
Cherry Pie is a small development team based out of Orlando, Florida that was awarded $15,000 for its development of a VR title called Emmerholt. The game puts the player on a horse with a mission to fight the evil forces that are creeping into the town of Emmerholt. The game was born out of the team's original concept demo called Hollow, which also had the player in control of a horse while riding around the environment. Just like Hollow, Emmerholt will use a VR headset in conjunction with a Leap Motion sensor, which will allow for the player's hands to grab onto the virtual reins of the horse.
With the addition of these two projects, the number of recipients rises to 15, with a total amount of $262,000 in funding. Obviously, there will be more winners in the future, and each team that receives funding is an investment for Epic. Even though Unreal Engine 4 is a free product, the one caveat to the deal is that developers must give a 5 percent royalty fee if the product makes over $3,000 every quarter. Epic is banking on these teams to not only deliver on a quality game or movie, but to also help generate revenue for the company at large.