Unreal Engine vs Unity3d Cost


Just learning about both these engines. It seems to me that they are often compared online and mostly people say they are pretty similar in what they can produce. Which makes me wonder why anybody would use Unreal considering how much more it costs (unless you are not planning on making any money off your product).

For example, if my product makes $100,000 in a year I would owe Unreal 20% (@ 5% per quarter) of my gross meaning $20,000. For Unity I would owe $1500 for the pro license. As far as I can tell the Unity Pro license is for all platforms as well (whereas older versions required additional fees for IOS and Android).

Am I missing something here? This seems like a huge difference in cost for two engines that seem to have similar capabilities (at least according to the various posts on the internet and YouTube).


The engines are not all that similar in what they produce, Unity is lacking many features that Unreal has built in–like a usable UI system and a system like Blueprints. There’s a lot of advanced rendering options in Unreal and the material system is much more advanced along with being easier to use.

And you definitely have your math wrong, the revenue is counted each quarter, and it only charges amounts above $3,000, so if you made $25,000 in a quarter you would subtract $3,000 and owe 5% on the remainder, so $1,100. If you made $25,000 each quarter you would have paid $4,400 for the year.

Unity has a monthly cost per developer, so at their lowest tier (where your game makes less than $200,000) for a year you’d have to pay $378 per developer, if you were to make more than $200,000 then you’d have to get the Pro tier and that would cost $1,350 per developer. That’s not counting all the extra addons you have to purchase for Unity.

Wow, that’s awesome. I didn’t think calculating the percentage quarterly would actually make a difference, but obviously it makes a huge difference. Thanks for your prompt and considerate reply.

To point out a few things.
The idea that one can make an AAA game and not pay for the good stuff, and meaning no disrespect, gives me a chuckle.

If you make “anything” as a product for the Unreal 4 engine and make a return of $100,000 bucks in a year I say good job…dame good job. :smiley:

$100,000 is an arbitrary number as to a fixed point as to a rate of return.

With in a context.

If you release your game on Steam and with in a week your rate of return is $10 bucks your game will probably lose focus on Steam.

On the other hand

If your rate of return is $100,000 week then for the year is $52,000,000, with out considering falloff.

Angry Birds is said to gross 1.2 million per month and Rovio Entertainment having a market value of 4 Billion.


Epic only makes money when you make money so your up front costs is zero

Unity’s licensing and support becomes foggy as to up front costs from paying for product support or licensing fees for out of scope use (IE fair use that is not game related)

Unreal 4 product support is free and the scope of the royalty is limited to video game development. Out of scope in this case would be using UE4 for example as a real time rendering platform to produce a full length animated feature film for which you would not have to pay royalties.

In general

Up front cost will kill you and could land up losing money.

As a business you do not want to own your gear or equipment as you can write such items off as a business expense or even as a loss.

Rule of thumb is always consider companies that sell off the shelf software products as being snake oil sales man and learn to amortize your costs.

Last bit of advice, and secret sauce of Indy development, take a few small business course usually offered by your local collage or university…and of course write the fee off on your taxes. :wink:

Reality check:

Why pay for years of subscription fees when you can’t even know if your finished game is going to sell ANYTHING at all.
If you sell anything, remember that Steam’s 30% is already a huge cut you have to deal with.
If you have a team working on stabilished product with a fanbase waiting for the new game, fine, Unity may be much cheaper depending on many factors.
But, for most cases you are actually saving tons of wasted investment in case you use Unreal (which is much more advanced software by the way), because “if you succeed then Epic succeed with you”.
Unity is taking your moneys, when you use it, doesn’t matter your fate/outcome.
If you don’t have a team of professionals who actually know what they are doing then Unity may cost you much much more because you will not be able to finish a good game in just 1~2 years.
5+ years of Unity Pro monthly subscriptions x10+ seats ain’t cheap. But if you hit big then Unreal is going to cost a big truck of money on royalties, but from my point of view… it’s fair enough.

And if you think you’ve got a good chance of doing well with your game then you can negotiate a custom license for Unreal, at a certain point the 5% is much more than Epic would usually take for a successful game and so you’d pay much less with a custom license. Games like ARK or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds do successful enough to where 5% would be way too high of a fee.

What if someone is making a game for the first time and uses the free version of Unity (which you can publish a game with) and your turn over is under 100K as indicated.

What if that game succeeds and makes more than 100K turnover the year after, by that logic your upfront cost for the first game would be zero and when you succeed i think paying unity fee for a license subscription doesn’t become that much of a big deal because you and your team will be able to afford it for your next game.

You’re going to have to check the Unity website for that info

Edit: Further reading of their License agreements and other ‘answers’, indicates that what I said above would stand true with one emphasis on the point that as soon as the company reaches more than 100K in turnover that it should immediately switch to pro licensing if it wishes to still use Unity, which is only fair at that point and affordable.

There are two fairly important points that I’d consider in terms of the costs themselves;

A) Unity’s cost is up-front, meaning it must be taken out of your development budget whereas Unreal’s cost is a royalty based on release. For any given project, you do not need to account for the licensing costs of the tools, only your prospective returns.

B) Unity’s license is per-seat, whereas Unreal’s royalty is per-project. If your development team has ten people, you’re paying $1500 per month for Unity - and if you suddenly need to expand that team to thirteen, you’ll need to find space in your budget for another $450. This isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things (I mean, compare it to salaries), but it’s less friendly to the reality of game development than the royalty license.

Personally, the biggest cost is in development itself, so I would defer to the tools that allow me to get the job done quickly and effectively; it’s up to you to decide what those are. In theory, if it’s taking you 25% longer to complete the same task and get the same results in Unreal as you would in Unity, you’re effectively losing money through inefficiency.

If you can guarantee success with your game never choose ue, you wouldn’t want to tie your foot paying them royalties for your entire life. That applies to any business really, never choose the royality approach.