The free-to-use CryEngine 3 SDK has been downloaded more than 430,000 times since its release in August, according to company data.
Crytek’s Ferrari-like engine is edging closer to its half millionth download just a month since its release.
“It’s great news for us, and it seems like global coverage, not just Europe-heavy,” Crytek co-founder Avni Yerli told Develop. “It’s being picked up equally across the US, Europe and Asia.”
Before it was released for free, studios needed to pay for a licence agreement to use Crytek's flagship engine. The CryEngine 3 SDK relaxes those restraints by allowing anyone with a PC to download it for free. A licence deal is only arranged if the user decides to build a commercial PC project.
The ‘free unlimited trial’ strategy has proven successful for rival engine vendors such as Unity and Epic Games. The idea is to generate developer interest in the tech and monetise only from those who want to build commercial projects. Crytek, for example, will take a 20 per cent cut of revenue from PC projects made through the SDK. Making it free, the theory goes, should encourage more people to choose the engine for commercial projects.
Yerli said a key reason for the free engine’s popularity is its wider applications for things like training simulations, architecture simulation programs and other Serious games projects.
“While we have been contacted by a lot of game developers, we also have people from outside gaming that want to use the engine,” he said.
“But of course we hope indies will have great ideas and use the engine and we can’t wait to see them make really innovate games. That’s going to be really fun.”
When Epic Games released its own free UDK in 2009, the engine was installed about 50,000 times in its first week. The engine now boasts 900,000 unique installs, Epic said, with total download rates even higher.
The Unity Engine, meanwhile, had been downloaded about 20,000 times in the first two weeks since it launched as free tech.