Unreal Engine 4 Due Next Console Generation; Estimated by Epic as 2012 to 2018, PC Coming Last

By Chris Faylor, Jul 24, 2008 10:31am PDT Following Epic's statement that the next iteration of its popular Unreal Engine development tools will target the PlayStation 4 and next Xbox first, president Mike Capps has roughly estimated that the next generation will run from 2012 to 2018.

"We've got Unreal [Engine] 4 in production right now," Capps said at GamesFest, according to Gamasutra "It's going to be in the next console generation--our rough guess is 2012 [to] 2018."

In its early years, Epic was primarily focused on PC software and technology with titles such as Jazz Jackrabbit and Unreal Tournament. Like many other formerly PC-centric companies, such as Microsoft, the studio has since become a major player in the console market.

"Version 4 [of Unreal Engine] will exclusively target the next console generation," founder Tim Sweeney said earlier this year. "Microsoft's successor for the Xbox 360, Sony's successor for the Playstation 3--and if Nintendo ships a machine with similar hardware specs, then that also...PCs will follow after that."

The current version of Epic's Unreal technology, Unreal Engine 3, has proven to be a popular choice for numerous PC and consoles developers as they craft titles for multiple platforms while attempting to take advantage of each platform's strengths.

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  • Epic's plans wouldn't be so much of a problem if the quoted year wasn't 2012... If the target was 2010 or maybe even 2011, they could maybe scrape by with that the new consoles would initially overpower PC tech at the time (granted, that would only have a snowball's chance in hell of being true if Epic came out with a very highly tuned and well-optimized version of UE4 then, otherwise look no farther than Call of Duty 2 and Oblivion to see the disparity between the PC and 360 that has existed since even before the 8800GTX) or at least get it to a wider audience more immediately. But if MS and Sony really aren't going to be getting anything flying until 2012 for the next generation... Well, I dunno. It depends on a lot of factors, but given the track that PC hardware has just started on again this year, if that keeps up through 2012 (and with Intel entering the gpu ring along with Asus rumbling about moving in a bit as well, I don't think we're going to see another year-long gap where something like the 8800GTX just reigns supreme and veritably unchallenged at the top; hell, the way nVidia and ATi are duking it out right now, it's going to be 3-4 month hardware cycles for gpu's and that won't just apply to the high-end), and if the trend that ATi kicked-in of keeping performance affordable keeps up... What price would MS and Sony need to levy to stay competitive performance-wise there and what are the chances of them levying that hefty a price? And none of this even factors in the preliminary efforts like Battlefield: Heroes, Quake Live, etc... That could well strike at the very heart of Microsoft's and Sony's revenue models for the 360 and PS3.

    But whatever, if Epic slacks then someone else will pick-up the rope. As of late, there have been some really interesting efforts coming from indie engine developers, such as Leadwerks 2.