Vital Organs: The HumanSim medical application can use Epic Games’ game engine to simulate details of clothing and human physiology.
The applications of the company’s game engine extend beyond serious gaming. One of the most popular ways of using Epic Games’ technology has been in animated movies made with the tools developed to create expository cinematic sequences in video games.
Many game engine developers were reluctant to expand into nongame markets, in part because their business model typically involved licensing their technology to other game designers in exchange for a cut of the revenue from the resulting games. Each “serious game” might be bought by only a few people with specialized needs, and animation studios wouldn’t sell any games at all, so it didn’t look like much of a revenue stream. Epic was one of the first game studios to open these markets by developing new licensing approaches that made sense for both them and their clients, says the Serious Games Initiative’s Sawyer.
For companies that want to develop in-house software, such as an oil company that wants to develop a simulation of an oil rig for training, Epic Games offers yearly licenses of $2,500. The client can then use that simulation within the company free of charge. (Epic negotiates similar licenses for film projects.) Developers who want to build products for sale pay $99 for the license and then give Epic a 25 percent cut after the first $50,000 in sales. Epic also offers a free development kit for noncommercial use; it’s been downloaded a million times so far. The next stage of the technology is likely to be simplification: if it’s easier for nonprogrammers to create training and simulation applications, game technology can be used to educate a wider group of employees.