Frankfurt-headquartered Crytek may be about to compete with both Unity and Epic Games on the emerging battleground of free-to-use engines.
The global indie outfit told Develop that it wants to release a standalone free engine “that will be up to speed” with the CryEngine 3 platform.
Unreal vendor Epic Games and Unity have both seen their user-bases mushroom overnight since launching versions of their own engines that, while tied to different royalty rates, are completely free to download and operate.
Now the CryEngine 3 group has revealed it wants to tap into this thriving market.
The firm’s CEO Cevat Yerli told Develop that Crytek already gives away a CryEngine 2 editor to the mod community, but explained that Crytek’s expansion strategy stretches beyond.
“We have a very vivid community of users and modders and content creators, and usually that’s a great way of unlocking the engine,” he said.
“That being said, it’s not the same as what Epic or Unity are currently doing, but we are now pushing harder on this area. We did it before already, but we haven’t pushed it that far yet.”
When asked if Crytek’s new platform – the CryEngine 3 – was central to this future strategy, Yerli responded:
“Yes, but – to be frank – not as a mod. So far that’s what we’ve been offering for free, and it’s easy entry into the production environment. [But] we do want to make a standalone free platform that people can run independent of CryEngine that will also be up to speed with the latest engine.”
It remains unclear what kind of tech and licence deal will emerge from this strategy.
Unreal – a close competitor to Crytek – recently stated that the free Unreal Development Kit (UDK) is ‘not watered down in any way’ when compared to the full-priced UE3.
During the UDK’s first week of availability, over 50,000 users installed the platform.
Unity, meanwhile, has thrived from its freemium engine strategy. In October last year the firm made its $200 Unity Indie platform free to use, while also offering a $1500 version of ‘Unity Pro’.
In under four months the Californian engine group surpassed 100,000 registered users.