With the Mobile World Congress going on some people may have forgotten that the 2015 Games Developers Conference is also jumping off. This morning, Epic Games of Gears of War fame announced to the world that its new game engine, Unreal Engine 4, is now "available to everyone for free."

Regarded as one of the most intriguing and advanced game engines in the video game industry, the Unreal Engine 4 marks a step forward for those looking to entering into the game creation market. UE4, which works on current-gen consoles like the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, devices such as SteamOS, Linux, Android, and HTML 5 (to name a few), previously launched with a $19 per month subscription fee.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney confirmed the details in a lengthy blog post, which also highlighted that users can freely access the engine’s entire toolset. Users and curious game creators can now enter into the Unreal Engine Marketplace and buy and sell custom-made art and programming assets. "This is the complete technology we use at Epic when building our own games," Sweeney admitted. Those who currently subscribe to the Epic Games community will receive a pro-rated refund effective immediately.

Anyone who has ever paid to use the engine will receive a $30 credit at the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

Yes, it’s like Oprah Winfrey came down from her gilded studio gates to offer any and everyone $30 credit, regardless of how one came to be a part of the Epic Games community. In addition to the freemium package, Epic still pockets the five percent generated from a game’s revenue after successful users make their first $3,000. In comparison to other cross-platform development tools, such as Unity Pro, game makers would have to pay $75 per month to use.

Epic has been steadily removing the barriers between novice game makers and its community. Back in September 2014, the company allowed students to freely access the toolset, but they could only log in after receiving credentials from an approved teacher or administrator. The situation instantly turned sketchy, as students began making up fake accounts to bypass an instructor’s permission.

"The more barriers we can eliminate … the more potential we see in our business," Sweeney told Gamasutra in an exclusive interview. "If a game succeeds, we succeed along with the developer. We profit along with them on it." This news comes on the heels of the company’s admission that they wanted to make Unreal Engine appeal to creative consumers. While making the popular engine free to game creators and developers, do you believe this is a step in the right direction for Epic Games?

Speak your piece in the comments section below.

Photo: Official GDC | Flickr

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