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Epic Games Signs Microsoft Publishing Deal

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the jay-wilbur-has-hat-made-of-money dept.

PC Games (Games) 44

Thanks to for the news that Unreal creators Epic have signed a long-term publishing deal with Microsoft. According to the piece, "Microsoft will publish 'several' future Epic projects - as yet unnamed - exclusively for Xbox and Windows", and it's noted that "Epic is the sole owner of the Unreal name and franchise", although Atari is still publishing Unreal Tournament 2004 for PC this November. Included in the Microsoft deal are two projects from new Epic offshoot Scion Studios, promising to "explore development opportunities within Epic Games' established action titles, and beyond", possibly implying at least one Unreal-branded, Microsoft-published title - unless the "established action title" in question is Jazz Jackrabbit.

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Cool? (5, Insightful)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981255)

No conspiracy here. Microsoft does what it does best: spot talent and buy it.

Re:Cool? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6982818)

A shame that Epic hasn't demonstrated any measure of talent in the past five years beyond making pretty engines.

Re:Cool? (2, Interesting)

rhuntley12 (621658) | more than 10 years ago | (#6983787)

What's wrong with creating awesome engines? They lead to great games. UT is still one of my all time favorite games, along with Tactical Ops mod.(I just played Tact Ops for last two hours at work~) I don't know why people didn't like UT2k3, I thought it rocked. True, it wasn't anything mind blowing or new. Still a good game to play.

Re:Cool? (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987432)

heh, their engines were only awesome on the surface... Their latest graphics engine doesnt even use most of the DX8 features. UT2k3 and U2 were nothing but beefed up DX7 engines. There were some DX8 features but a pathetic few of them there were... can i have some pixel shaded water please? no...instead we'll throw a texture on the top of it and turn the alpha way down....hopefully no one will notice... the games were two of the biggest disappointments ever IMHO. and Tac Ops? it was nothing but a cheap rip off of CS. any CD player who's played Tac Ops will tell you that...

Re:Cool? (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987465)

CD = CS. didnt notice my typo

Re:Cool? (1)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 10 years ago | (#7011631)

An engine doesn't have to use DX(8,9,10) features to be interesting. As an example, the Serious Sam engine (OpenGL) harldy used any never-seen-before features, but the sheer size of the levels you could create with it was truely revolutionnary.

Well hey (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981287)

If I had 40+ billion dollars just burning a hole in my pocket I'd buy my way into the games industry too.

Re:Well hey (1)

Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981318)

Why? I am sure that there are less volatile markets you can get involved in. If you've got 40 billion dollars, don't risk that money in the video game industry! That's madness! It's a fickle industry where companies rise and fall overnight.

Spend it before somebody else does (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6983916)

Maybe it's just Enronb-money. If it's real, they better spend it before somebody else does []

Microsoft is just buying it's way into the market. (2)

zulux (112259) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981299)

That can't program/design their way into the market - so the just buy the whole slices of the market from under everybody else.


Re:Microsoft is just buying it's way into the mark (4, Insightful)

adamjaskie (310474) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981321)

And buying out companies that make Linux more attractive - UT and UT2003 run GREAT on my system under Linux. We arent going to see Linux binaries for future products published by Microshaft.

Re:Microsoft is just buying it's way into the mark (1)

AlternateSyndicate (644818) | more than 10 years ago | (#6983606)

You're putting too much stock in the wording of the article. "XBox Exclusive" has always meant simply that the game cannot be ported over to PS2 and GameCube. Microsoft only allows PC ports to XBox if they're exclusive, which is a good move on their part. Nothing sinister or immoral about it.

I seriously doubt that this announcement (which we don't have a source from either MS or Epic on yet) has anything at all to do with Linux.

Even if it did, I don't doubt that Epic would drop Linux clients in half a second if Microsoft decided to require it. Epic doesn't make money off of Linux.

Re:Microsoft is just buying it's way into the mark (4, Informative)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | more than 10 years ago | (#6984345)

From the article: "Microsoft will publish "several" future Epic projects -- as yet unnamed projects -- exclusively for Xbox and Windows ." (my emphasis). Not "XBox and PC", which could have given leeway in the OS department. No, this would be an appropriate point to say fare-thee-well to Linux clients of any future Epic games. Dropping linux servers is less likely, though Microsoft would probably pressure Epic to drop them as well.

Re:Microsoft is just buying it's way into the mark (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#6983287)

That can't program/design their way into the market - so the just buy the whole slices of the market from under everybody else.

Which is exactly what Atari nee Infogrames, Electronic Arts, Vivendi, etc. have done over the years. But it's Microsoft in this case so they suck, I guess.

Note how (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6981380)

Microsoft's acquisitions are always designed not only to serve as revenue generators, but also as cockblockers for the competition.

In the games industry alone, they've done this to Mac users (Bungie), Nintendo (Rare - honestly, Nintendo got rid of them at the right time, IMO), and now Linux gamers (Epic/Unreal).

Basically, they use their large coffers from their Windows/Offce monopoly to prop up their side projects and diddle with everyone else.

Re:Note how (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6982866)

Don't forget Sony. Oddworld: Munch's Odysee was the main reason why I pre-ordered a PS2; but shortly before the PS2 was released, news hit that MS bought the franchise and that the next three Oddword games would be exclusive to the Xbox (if I remember correctly).

Re:Note how (1)

rhuntley12 (621658) | more than 10 years ago | (#6983796)

Did they say they won't allow them to publish games for Linux? Can't fault them for trying to make their Xbox look better to people, can you? Good move on their part in my opinion. Unreal Championship is great on Xbox Live, I'm sure any sequels will be also.

New G5 and gaming (1, Troll)

Zelet (515452) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981443)

Mac would have become one of the greatest gaming platform with a powerful processor and huge amounts of bandwidth... until now. MS is fucking everybody again - with profits from its illegal monopoly.

Thanks Bush admin for laying off of MS.

Only slightly OT... (0, Offtopic)

phraktyl (92649) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981447)

Many years ago (maybe 7 or 8?) I played a game that I could have sworn Epic put out, but I don't see it on the Epic Classic Games site. Maybe some of the folks here remember it.

I don't remember a whole lot, other than it was a 2D side-scrolling game where you were a wizard, and were collecting little lightning bolts and things. The only other thing I remember is that we spent hours on that game passing time on 12 hour midnight shifts as airmen in an Air Force network operations center... :)

Only slightly more OT (1)

boneshintai (112283) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981798)

You mean Hocus Pocus [] ? That game was passing fun, but it had some issues where you could get yourself stuck, because special effect potions would run out before you got to where you needed to be unless you ran there.

hocus pocus (1)

kosamae (589574) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981802)

You're thinking of an Apogee game named "Hocus Pocus." [] It looks like you can still buy it from the site for $10.

Where does this leave the franchise? (3, Interesting)

Murdock037 (469526) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981463)

I wonder how this affects games that are supposedly already in development. Unreal 2 came and went, and they're milking all the good will they can out of the UT franchise, but that leaves the in-house project they've supposedly been developing for the next major iteration of the Unreal engine-- supposedly called, if memory serves, Unreal Warfare.

This was the game of the trio that always seemed the most interesting to me-- they talked about it being the most advanced of the three, what little snippets we got implied that it was far more ambitious, and, well, the name is simply the coolest.

The article (short as it is) says that Epic still holds the Unreal franchise, but I wonder if they won't be tempted to abandon it-- has anybody seen any new screens in the last, oh, year?-- for a bigger and better deal from their new patrons.

Re:Where does this leave the franchise? (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#6983302)

Actually, as I recall, "Unreal Warfare" is the official name of the current engine. They probably just decided it sounded cooler than "The Unreal 2 Engine" (particularly since Unreal 2 was rather a lackluster game beyond the graphics).

Re:Where does this leave the franchise? (1)

inkless1 (1269) | more than 10 years ago | (#6985417)

Unreal 2 hasn't been abandoned, they've already announced a free multiplayer expansion.

It seems odd that Unreal Warfare intrigued the most. It was never announced, there were never any details of it, Epic never openly talked about it, and there was essentially nothing to get intrigued over. It's a rumored long term project for Epic, and one of those things that we will "know about when we can". IOW, they're still building the technology for it. This is where the "Unreal Warfare Engine" term came from - because games were using tech that was being used to build UW.

UW may never get developed though, or it might show up in different ways.

And Epic will never sell the Unreal franchise. They are actively upgrading the UT2kX series (last year? I saw screens ... um, yesterday). Epic's business is the Unreal series, and selling it makes as much sense as Id selling off Doom or Quake. They don't need to sell off anything, that's why they have a licensing model.

Re:Where does this leave the franchise? (1)

simoniker (40) | more than 10 years ago | (#6985548)

My impression is that the Unreal Warfare engine is actually now just the Unreal engine - in other words, they decided against changing the name branding.

In fact, I think the game originally branded Unreal Warfare turned into Unreal Tournament 2003? It's notable that most press mentions of Unreal Warfare were in early 2001, and that Unreal 2 was listed in some places as running on the Unreal Warfare engine (presumably the same one as UT2K3.)

Re:Where does this leave the franchise? (1)

mahdi13 (660205) | more than 10 years ago | (#6985998)

Unreal 2 and UT2003 were forked off what was then called the "Unreal Warfare" engine. Since these games have been released the engine's name has be changed and set as "Unreal Tech"

and Linux? (4, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 10 years ago | (#6981652)

I'm going to miss those Linux ports.

Reminds me of when MS bought Rare (unconfirmed, my little bro says so).

Time to boycott Unreal. Quake still seems to be un-bought, right?

They did grab them (2, Informative)

August_zero (654282) | more than 10 years ago | (#6982327)

Yes, MS owns Rare, Nintendo dumped them a year or so ago after Rare failed to generate any sort of significant revenue.

It is however unclear as to if Rare is going to be much use for MS though. In their last couple of years working with nintendo, Rare had gained a notorious rep for failing to get anything released even close to its deadline (perfect dark, starfox adventures and some others were all 2 years or more late) And their recent efforts while solid, have of late lacked the craftsmanship that their earlier work did. Some of this is because a good chunk of their staff left Rare to form the developer "Free Radical" some of the burnout may have just been related to not wanting to work with Nintendo anymore, who knows.

Epic wasn't much of a player on the console market in the first place, Sony might miss the Unreal ports but i don't think they did all that well anyway did they? I don't know, I mean Epic is a good name but I can think of other developers that would be better targets. Afterall, MS isn't trying to gain new games, they are trying to keep games away from the other consoles.

Re:They did grab them (1)

rhuntley12 (621658) | more than 10 years ago | (#6983812)

Unreal ports on consoles haven't done well. Unreal Championship(UT2k3) on Xbox is doing pretty well I believe. Always alot of people on Xbox Live playing it, although I've been on a Wolfenstein kick lately. And your going to be boycotting a game that could be good because it's owned by Microsoft? Or does it make you more popular to say that?

Re:They did grab them (1)

August_zero (654282) | more than 10 years ago | (#6989390)

boycott? what the hell are you talking about?

I never said or implied anything like a boycott, I just stated my knowledge of the rare/ms relationship. Please save your insults for someone that deserves them.

Re:They did grab them (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 10 years ago | (#6993233)

I will be boycotting any game that requires that I buy an xbox or a copy of Windows. If it's really a good game and works under Wine/WineX, I might buy it. I use Linux, and I'd been enjoying the Linux ports.

I can certainly see MS trying to keep stuff away from other consoles, but can't you see this as also just another strategy to lock out Linux?

And whatever happened to Indreama? That was a good idea, but there ended up being a grand total in the single digits of the number of games for it. Why?

I've lost faith in gaming anyway. Games nowdays take way too long to load (especially on the ps2) when the technology is at the point where the level could just load (at least on a pc) as the gameplay starts (only where you walk to would load). They also occasionally crash, which is a cardinal sin -- you've got no excuse on the ps2 or Linux. And the more coolness they get from the technology, the less they actually try to make a good game -- as long as it looks pretty...

I look forward to Half-Life 2, but ONLY if I can play it on Linux. Windows is just too much pain, and since I'm assuming it will support OpenGL anyway, wine / native ports shouldn't be hard.

Re:They did grab them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7007452)

Now can you say that again with less Whine?

load times today? Hah! you must be too young to remember the 80's son. Now those were load times.

This brings to mind a question... (1)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 10 years ago | (#6982125)

Does anybody have a link to a site that has a quote like "There are (small X) game publishers that made up (large Y%) of the total games published in the last year"?

I've got a feeling that we've gotten down to a few large houses, which are all cramming what I consider overreaching EULAs and aggravating copy protections down our throats, and would like to confirm my suspicion (didn't gaming feel a bit more diverse and fun between five and ten years ago?)

Re:This brings to mind a question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6983565)

Actually, the UT2003 EULA was at the very least entertaining...
1. Thanks. Congratulations and thank you for licensing our software. We're sorry to cramp your style, but out lawyers tell us that if we want to keep control and ownership of the cool stuff we're developing, we have to make sure you understand and agree that you are just buying a right to use it and that that right is limited in certain ways. So what follows is what you need to know and agree to.


6. Termination. This license is effective until one of us terminates it. You may terminate this license at any time by destroying the Software and related documentation. In the unlikely event that you are naughty and fail to comply with any provision of this license, this license will terminate immediately without notice from us. Upon termination, you must destroy the Software and related documentation. Please don't wait for us to come after you; it would not be pleasant for either of us. If we do have to come after you, we're going to expect you to pay us for our troubles, including the cost of our lawyers.


13. Enjoyment Requirements. We are aware that there are rumblings and grumblings within the gaming community about heavy handed, legally onerous license agreements. You have our word that this one is as fair and even handed as it gets and, as you have read this far, you know it to be true. Now, be gone from this screen and enjoy the Software, including the UnrealEd.

At least it kept me entertained while I figured out disc three was disc one for the Linux install...Too bad I'll never have to worry about figuring anything out about an epic game and a Linux installer.

BAH (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6982960)

great.... sealing their fate i can see. every since UT (1) their products have done nothing but go downhill... so surprise here... all hail valve

One thing to say to Microsft (0, Flamebait)

00RUSS (549125) | more than 10 years ago | (#6983407)

PISS OFF Im not buying your crap no matter if you buy out all the competion, or wait I think you pretty much have.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6983498)

For the love of god, let it not be so!!

They were supposed to be the good guys, what the hell happend! Time to boycott yet another company. Good thing id has that whole MS hatred thing...oh, and money, lots and lots of money. And to think, I was going to buy ut2k4 on release day. To hell with that. I wonder if epic knows how many people love them for UT working on Linux. The RIAA could knock on my door tomorrow demanding millions of dollars for all the songs I can't produce a legal copy of, and it wouldn't come close to how much this sucks. Someone could shoot my family dead overnight and I would still be more pissed that epic has done this. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to steal a copy of Windows and every epic game I can find.

Re:NOOOOOOOO!!!! (1)

rhuntley12 (621658) | more than 10 years ago | (#6983819)

Wow, another idiot. Boycot them, I'm sure it won't hurt them, and they won't care. ID hates MS? You do know Doom 3 will be on Xbox? I guess you'll have to boycott ID also.

Clients are all well and good... but servers? (2, Insightful)

Locky (608008) | more than 10 years ago | (#6984256)

So you won't see a Linux UT2005 client, well, very few people use that particular client, so I'm sure it won't effect sales too much. But what about the server? As it stands, Linux runs 85% of UT2003 servers. Not having a linux server will diminish the product many times more than not having a linux client.

But! (0)

Hellraisr (305322) | more than 10 years ago | (#6984911)

Atari IS Epic Games

Epic Games owns them and released Unreal Tournament in North America under the Atari name because it is more well known. I wouldn't expect that this would change just because of this deal.

Re:But! (2, Insightful)

rwven (663186) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987377)

No, Atari is NOT epic games... Atari used to be called infogrames. They are nothing but publisher...and microsoft took over their gig...

farewell (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6985739)

No more Unreal for my Linux? Another reason why i kickedd it from my Harddisk yesterday. The level editor didn't work in Linux anyways ... gtkradiant performs really well, though.

id wants to remain independent and Quake is funny as well. Sorry Epic, UT was fun, but the future belongs to id now.

Now i will make some Quake levels, while i still wait for the first open-source shooter (no bzflag and cube don't count!)

It was fun (1)

hallie_ball (36026) | more than 10 years ago | (#6987319)

When there aren't coming games anymore from Epic because of the deal with MS to Linux, so be it.

Those games will be (i think) DRM enabled and when you don't have DRM enabled on your linux box you can't play/serve them.

Time for something else.

Haha! Suckers! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6991579)

Microsoft can spend all the money they want buying out gaming companies, but they'll never get my money! I'm having more fun than any M$-crap playing "Count the Beads" on my Abacus-2003! Suckers! Let them spend!
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