Epic will charge non-game developers $1,850 ‘per seat’ to use Unreal Engine

Epic Games has announced a new pricing structure for non-game developers to use its Unreal Engine, after teasing the change last year. The Fortnite developer will charge an annual “per seat” subscription of $1,850. The term “per seat” is tech nomenclature that effectively means “a person using the software.” These changes will go into effect with the release of Unreal Engine 5.4 in late April.

Though Unreal Engine is primarily known as a game development tool, it’s regularly used in a diverse array of industries, which is where this pricing structure comes in. Companies that make linear content, like TV shows and movies, will have to cough up that $1,850 fee, as will organizations that develop in-car infotainment platforms and immersive experiences, like theme park rides. Currently, Epic makes no money from the majority of these users, as the end products aren’t, as Sweeney put it last year, “royalty-bearing.”

The annual fee provides these users with access to the Unreal Engine itself, the Twinmotion real-time visualization tool and the company’s RealityCapture 3D modeling software. However, organizations can purchase standalone licenses for each. Twinmotion will cost $445 per year and RealityCapture will cost $1,250 each year.

There are some exclusions here. Companies that make less than $1 million in annual gross revenue won’t have to pay the fee. The same goes for students, educators and hobbyists. Companies that develop plug-ins for the Unreal Engine can continue to use the software for free, but Epic will take a cut via its revenue share model.

Epic’s real bread and butter, game developers, will continue to have access to Unreal Engine for free, only paying a five percent royalty on software that earns over $1 million in lifetime gross revenue. Epic extended the royalty-free cutoff from $50,000 to $1 million back in 2020.

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