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Is Unreal Engine 5 free for commercial use?

The short answer is yes, Unreal Engine 5 can be used completely free for commercial game development and other projects, with no royalties owed to Epic Games until your product generates more than $3,000 per quarter in gross revenue. This allows indie developers and studios to build and sell games commercially with UE5 without any upfront costs. Read on for a more detailed guide.

Requirements for Free Use of Unreal Engine 5

Epic Games enables anyone to download the full version of Unreal Engine 5 at no cost. All features are included, along with C++ source code access. There are no hidden fees or licensing costs to get started.

This free offering is allowed under the standard end user license agreement (EULA) which permits using Unreal Engine 5 for learning and developing your own projects. The EULA also enables several commercial uses completely free of charge, which we‘ll cover next.

Commercial Uses Allowed Under the Free EULA

Under the free UE5 license, you can use the engine commercially for:

  • Custom client projects – Games or apps developed for a specific customer or client.
  • Linear content – Animated films, TV shows, and other linear media.
  • Distribution via the Epic Games Store – Games sold on EGS don‘t owe any royalties.
  • Non-interactive simulations and visualizations.
  • Instructional content, samples, and templates.
  • Architecture, engineering, and construction projects.

This covers a wide range of commercial usage with no obligation to pay Epic Games. Of course, game developers can sell their games on any platform such as Steam, Android, iOS, PlayStation etc.

Royalty Thresholds for Commercial Games

For interactive games and apps being sold commercially, the UE5 EULA obligates developers to pay a 5% royalty to Epic Games on quarterly gross revenue above $3,000.

So in practical terms, you can build an indie game with UE5, sell it on any platform, and not owe any royalties until your game makes more than $3,000 per quarter. This revenue threshold gives small developers plenty of leeway for commercial use without any costs.

According to Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, 91% of developers using Unreal Engine don‘t end up paying any royalties at all due to this generous threshold.

Using Unreal Engine Assets Commercially

One of the great benefits of Unreal is its expansive Marketplace containing thousands of high-quality assets for game development.

Epic allows all the free assets in this Marketplace to be used in commercial projects without paying any fees or attributing Epic Games. So any free textures, 3D models, animation blueprints, particle effects etc. can be used in commercial games built with UE5.

For paid assets in the Marketplace, usage rights vary so you should review the specific license before usage in a commercial product.

Developing Games Visually Without Coding

A major advantage of Unreal Engine 5 is the ability to create gameplay and logic without needing to write C++ code. The Blueprint visual scripting system allows you to design game logic by connecting nodes in a flowchart style interface.

This visual approach allows much faster iteration compared to coding everything. You can get basic gameplay up and running extremely quickly with Blueprints.

Later, C++ can be used for optimizations and more complex features. But Blueprints allow anyone to jump into game creation without prior coding knowledge.

Blueprints Help Lower the Barrier for New Developers

In my opinion, Blueprints are one of the biggest reasons new developers should choose Unreal Engine over Unity. With UE5, you can go straight into building gameplay rather than needing to learn C# first.

Of course, Unity now offers visual scripting too in the form of Bolt. But Blueprints are far more commonly used and have a longer track record in Unreal. It‘s an easier path for non-coders to start seeing results faster.

Why Major Games Trust Unreal Engine 5

Unreal Engine 5 brings major technical improvements that allow creators to push graphics and interactivity further. Let‘s look at some of the key benefits of UE5:

  • Nanite virtualized geometry – Allows insane polygon counts with film-quality assets.
  • Lumen global illumination – Dynamic lighting adapted in real-time.
  • Optimized for current-gen consoles like PS5.
  • World Partitioning tools – Develop vast open worlds.
  • Procedural sound effects with Metasound.
  • Free major version upgrades – Migrate projects seamlessly.

These capabilities have convinced several big-name franchises to adopt Unreal Engine 5 for upcoming releases:

  • Sonic Frontiers
  • BioShock 4
  • Borderlands 4
  • Tomb Raider games
  • Witchfire
  • Gears of War games

Major games already shipping with UE5 technology include Sonic Frontiers, Black Myth: Wukong and Redfall.

Usage in Films and Television

Unreal Engine 5 brings huge potential for virtual production in films and television. Its real-time rendering and quick iteration allowed filmmakers to create compelling environments in shows like The Mandalorian.

Given Epic‘s focus on cutting-edge graphics, we may see more animated feature films consider Unreal Engine as well. The ability to pre-visualize and render in real-time offers significant advantages over traditional offline rendering pipelines.

How Unreal Engine Compares to Unity

Unity is the other major game engine used widely in the industry. Both allow free usage for commercial projects until a revenue threshold is reached. Let‘s compare some key capabilities:

Unity – Better for Beginners

  • More beginner-friendly coding with C#/JavaScript.
  • Massive community support for learning.
  • Slightly easier for 2D & mobile games.

Unreal Engine – More Advanced Features

  • Blueprints allow faster prototyping without coding.
  • Greater graphical capabilities for high-end games.
  • Industry-leading tools like MetaHuman Creator.

For most professional game studios, Unreal Engine 5 provides the most robust toolset especially for 3D and online games. But Unity remains a great choice for developers just starting out.

Conclusion

Unreal Engine 5 delivers AAA-quality technology completely free for commercial use until your product starts generating decent revenue. The ability to publish and sell games royalty-free up to $3000 per quarter provides tremendous value for independent creators.

While coding skills allow tapping into the full potential, the visual Blueprints system empowers designers to realize their visions without programming. For next-gen games with stunning graphics and immersion, Unreal Engine 5 puts the future within reach today.