The astounding popularity of Unreal Engine 3 has helped Epic Games win another Develop Industry Excellence Award for Best Engine – a key victory for the group in a year where its competitors edged ever closer to the coveted prize.
Epic Games emerged victorious in a desperately tight category. The Gears of War creators managed to endure the unmistakable influence of the Unity Engine, the astounding sophistication of CryEngine 3, the popular flexibility of Gamebryo Lightspeed, and the creative freedom offered with Trinigy Vision Engine.
Having secured the most votes from a judging panel of top industry professionals, the Unreal Engine 3 has now won two Develop Best Engine awards back-to-back – though some would argue that the engine is now on a winning streak of three.
In 2008, before the Develop Awards featured a Best Engine category, Epic Games picked up the prize for Best Tools.
This year’s win, however, may well be Epic’s most treasured. The very model of selling game engines is in a state of flux, with Unity in particular spearheading a new direction of offering a free-to-try, unified platform.
On the other hand, Crytek’s relatively young CryEngine 3 is beginning to establish graphical benchmarks for detailed and vast open worlds.
But the tremendous successes of both competitors may not pry the Unreal Engine out from its position at the very heart of the third-party design business.
Epic Games says that over 150 ‘AAA games’ have been built with UE3. Most, if not all, months on the game release lists will feature a UE3-powered title.
The engine has also been used in various non-gamer pursuits, with companies using the platform to create simulations of building constructions, various vehicles, and even film storyboards.
Epic Games is now looking to broaden its horizons with the tech. The firm has recently made deep investments in securing business with Japanese studios, and has also begun modifying the platform for use on mobile and wireless devices such as the iPad. The Unreal Development Kit is the firm’s first attempt at the free-to-try engine model.
Best Engine Finalists
CryEngine 3 (Crytek)
Gamebryo LightSpeed (Emergent)
Unreal Engine 3 (Epic Games)
Vision Engine (Trinigy)
Unity Engine (Unity)