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Unreal Engine revenue more than doubled in 2016

Explosive growth since going free in 2015

Image from Unreal Engine features video
Epic Games

Revenue from Epic Games’ Unreal Engine more than doubled in 2016 compared to 2015, which was already a record year for the game engine, Epic’s Tim Sweeney told Polygon this week.

In 2015, Epic announced that the Unreal Engine was free to everyone, along with future updates. Instead of relying on engine sales, the company earned money by charging royalties to for-profit creations using the engine.

Last year, Sweeney told me that the decision to shift to a new system free of monthly subscription fees or purchase helped 2015 become the best engine year financially for the company “by a significant margin.”

And that approach continues to not just work, but drive an expansion of both the company’s profit and the use of the engine, Sweeney said at GDC.

While Sweeney didn’t release any hard numbers for revenue off the engine, he did point out that out of the top 25 highest grossing games on Steam in 2016, Unreal Engine is the only commercially licensable engine represented, having powered 10 games that hit number one on the charts last year alone.

He also said that UE4 powered two number one mobile games in Korea last year, and Unreal developers have earned more than $10 billion in sales globally.

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