According to Develop, NCsoft announced that they would continue to use Epic Games’s Unreal 3 engine in future games. NCsoft currently has at least one MMO, Blade and Soul, in development using the Unreal 3 engine. The deal was managed by Epic Games Korea.
NCsoft has had much experience with the Unreal engine in general: the now free-to-play Lineage II was one of the first MMOs to utilize the Unreal 2.5 engine when it was released in 2003. NCsoft’s Vice Presedent Hyungjun Kim gave the following statement:
“It has been possible for us to harness all our energy and put it toward the creativity of the games themselves by developing ‘Lineage II’ and ‘Blade and Soul’ with Unreal Engine. I believe we can pull the most out of the engine through the know-how that has accumulated through our experience with this superior game engine.”
Epic’s territory manager of Epic Games Korea, Ray Park, gave the following statement:
“Equipping the brilliant creative minds at NCsoft with cutting-edge tools and features will bring even more visually stunning, high-quality entertainment to millions of players. Already having worked more than a decade with NCsoft, we look forward to continuing our close cooperation with them for many more years to come.”
Analysis: Atari sold NCsoft to Perfect World, a Chinese developer best known for their free-to-play MMO games. Since this acquisition, many of NCsoft’s games have gone free-to-play. I think that this deal is in NCsoft’s favor because Epic Games are unveiling their new Unreal Engine at the GDC, though it’s behind closed doors. This new engine is going to be highly sought after—and expensive—in the long run for a free-to-play studio.
This deal was all about getting an engine that they know so they can have a quick turn-around on developing future titles, which is even more critical for their business model. The new Unreal Engine will have many new features, and it’ll take developers time to train and become familiar with them in order to take advantage of the most efficient ways to use them. The Unreal 3 Engine is showing its age, but that’s mainly due to the limitations of the current console generation; the new engine will be implemented in the next.
This deal is a major win for Epic Games as well. This will ensure that, even if their new engine isn’t licensed as much as they project it will be, they’ll always have an old faithful of sorts to help them through the rough times.
Note: Article corrected Mar. 10, 2012. NCsoft has published City of Heroes and Lineage II among their products.