If you are a Virtual reality or Augmented reality content developer, you would have run into or even use one of the game engines, such as UnityVR, Unreal Engine 4 Cryengine, and PlayCanvas, as your primary tool or building your next masterpiece. Some of which are free to use and deploy with, others are free to use and pay-to-deploy while some are totally paid solutions but at the end of the day, you are left with no choice but to use one of them if you are going to make 3D content. Or do you?
More AAA studios are actually going the other route of building their own game engines rather than use the more popular options available on the market and there are a couple of reasons why they do this.
First is the cost.
The better a game engine, the higher the cost, some like Unity will charge you a certain amount when you exceed the $100,000 revenue point. Then you get billed a percentage of your earnings to continue using their engine. Although this is far, imagine you make $1Billion a year and you have to pay $250Million as charges for using a certain game engine, you might start to think that building your own game engine isn’t such a crazy idea as it would cost you just a fraction of that to invest in creating your own.
Then there is control.
If you have your own game engine, you have total control of what you do with it and how you use it, what component is built into it and what features it has plus you would customize it to your own game build style so everything you need when designing is simple and easy for you and only you. Most times a commercially available game engine might not have a particular feature you want while being present in another but that one has some things you don’t need, too large or a host of reasons that make it unsuitable for your use. Quick solution, build your own and have it set up just the way you like.
After which we have security and competitive advantage.
After building your own game engine and added in some sweet features that isn’t available on other engines out there, you are not likely to go out and say, “Hey folks, come see my cool new game engine that has this cool new features”, if you are smart you are going to keep quiet and develop epic games (no pun intended) and leave the competition in the dust. Then after building your content, you might decide to rake in some extra cash and release a simplified version of your engine to the public on a paid basis. This is the thought process of large studios. After all, if they have something others don’t, it only increases their value making investors and shareholders happy, plus it helps bump up the bottom line.
So while there are lots of solutions available for game developers, both the novice and experts to choose from, if the funds are available, companies will choose to build their own as it makes better business sense, especially when making decent revenue from their titles.