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    Proposition for the funding model

    I've given this quite a bit of thought now (could hardly sleep this night over it...), and it seems that other Linux developers seem to agree with my line of thought about how to solve this issue that mod developers have to pay a subscription ir order to do free development. My suggestion for solving this issue: Dual licensing.

    This is already a funding model that works in practise. This is how Nokia, and now Digia get their money from the Qt project: http://qt.digia.com/licensing/ And this is a model that should work very well for Epic Games as well; in fact, Epic is almost there already.

    What is dual licensing? It's releasing software under two different licenses. In essence, you can think of it as releasing two different products, with two different licenses, but they just happen to share the same codebase. One license is a Free Software copyleft license, the other is a proprietary license.

    How does it work? People who don't want to make money out of it (read: community) can choose to use the software under a copyleft GPL-comatible Free Software license. That means full, unrestricted access to the source code and tools. The catch is that the license states that any code contributions must keep the same license: you can't use it for monetisation, because it's free to begin with, and the license says it must remain so forever.
    People or companies who do want to make money out of it (read: game studios) can choose the proprietary license. That means that the current licensing terms apply: Epic Games gets a cut of all their profits as well as a subscription fee.

    You can see how this is fair: people who want to help you for free, or want to learn to use the engine, can do so without restrictions. Those who want to profit from it have to pay up. Epic Games developers themselves still get the money the same way as always, by selling subscriptions and getting a cut of the profits. And people who want their modifications to be included in the base release of Unreal Tournament must contribute under the dual licenses (which means that Epic Games pretty much get free money here, because the community makes the engine better, and Epic Games get to sell those changes to studios that want a subscription; while the community gets a chance to easily contribute to Unreal Tournament).

    Having the source available with one license being a copyleft GPL-compatible Free Software license would also allow the community to do a lot of amazing things that weren't possible earlier, by virtue of being able to combine Unreal Engine 4 with the existing GPL tools and libraries. At the moment there are very few GPL-compatible game engines out there, and even then the Free Software community has managed to do amazing things with them, for instance, the Quake I engine powered Xonotic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xonotic The possibilities with Unreal Engine 4 would be incredible in that regard, and would definitely generate a lot of interest. And with a dual licensing solution, everyone wins: Epic Games get more subscriptions, the community gets a fully open-source game engine for non-commercial use.

    The only hurdle I can see is third party code, which might be forbidden from being licensed under a Free Software license. I'm not sure how much of UE4 codebase is that (if any); however, it should be possible to separate this third-party code and offer it only to subscribers, while non-subscribers still get to use the engine, just in a cut down fashion.

    So if you, Epic Games, could consider and implement this idea, it would be a monumental occasion for both gaming and the Free Software movement, on which the entirety of GNU/Linux is built upon.

    I might add some more thoughts to this later, but I just want to get this posted as fast as possible so the idea gets considered. Thank you for reading!
    Unreal Tournament 4 eXpanded MultiPlayer (UT4XMP) efforts
    My website, listing all my Unreal series mods and mutators

    #2
    While giving away the Engine itself for free on a dual license seems a great idea and can help bolster a much larger community for the development of the game, I can't see it being a viable option right now for Epic. Simply because, without a subscription fee, I could download the engine for free and create a game over a period of time and then subscribe/pay royalties when I want to release. This means that all developers could simply use this approach, which would in essence cut Epics monthly engine profits from $19 * NumOfUsers p/m to $0.

    Comment


      #3
      I don't think this approach would work. A considerable number of people probably just subscribed to play around with the engine and the tools, but not necessarily to release something to the public. I'm in this category. I'm working on a game now, but it's just a hobby project. I don't know if I will ever be able to finish and release it. What license would I use?
      Join us on IRC! We are on #unrealengine @ freenode.org
      Use the webchat or download Lingo (free IRC client on OS X).

      Comment


        #4
        All right, so I have the follow-up I mentioned written now. Sorry about the post length, but I felt it was important for me to say this.

        To put this into perspective: what you, Epic Games, are trying to do, is very similar to what other companies have tried to do on Linux, some of which succeeded very well, and they are a good example to follow. You're trying to make Unreal Tournament into a community game, which would combine everyone's efforts to achieve amazing results. The key to the success of this game, and through it the engine, is collaboration, free sharing of ideas, the feeling of community. Like you said in the stream, that's what made all the previous games special: the vibrant modding community, which continues to this day. And the community worked selflessly all these years, producing fantastic mods, maps, models, skins etc. for absolutely no cost – the EULA prevented selling mods for money, after all.

        Why did the community form around the UT games, and why did they produce all this content for free? The simple answer is because they could. They were empowered by the modding tools that were provided with the game. It's one thing to see a flaw in the game and be able to only bash the developers for it, and it's quite another to be able to fix it, or to add new content you think would work well. And they shared it, because if you like something, chances are someone else will like it too, and in this medium sharing does not cost anything. You do work to have more fun down the road yourself, and since it doesn't cost anything, you let others benefit from your work as well. So all in all this work is rewarding, in the spiritual sense: you both get the content you want, and you get credit from other people that makes you feel good about your work. That's the driving force behind the community.

        The current way you are going, unfortunately, works against these principles. There is a high entry bar for development here now. No longer do you need simple motivation to create something, but now you also need to pay for it. From personal experience, I know that if that was the system used in UT2004, I would not have bothered at all. Back then I was what, 13 years old? I didn't have a credit card to begin with. The bar would have been too high to begin with. But since it wasn't, I learned to code in UnrealScript (fumbling around at first, doing lots of copy-pasting, but progressing further). That was the first time I ever tried coding! That was what led me to later on learning to code in D, C and Lua. Nothing like that would have happened if there was such a bar in the way back then.

        The community is a centrepiece for software development on GNU/Linux as well. The whole OS is based on this very principle. It's basically an OS by modders, for modders, and the experience learned there is invaluable to the current way you, Epic Games, are trying to go. The community there works on the same principles: if there is something that the software a person uses lacks, the person is empowered to improve it by the availability of tools to do so, as well as software licenses that encourage contributions. And they do so, for the same reason as for why people do mods for UT games: they solve whatever was annoying them or add a feature that was lacking, and in the process also get credit and appreciation from others. That in turn motivates them to contribute more. This principle works so well, that now we have pretty much an entire operating system built from this alone.

        Most of the code created by said community is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). To put it simply, it ensures that the code, which the person freely gave for the community to use, stays freely usable in the community. The license mandates that users of the software are free to use, change and redistribute the software, as long as the license stays the same. Hence all further contributions to GPL code must also allow the freedom to use, modify and redistribute the software. This is needed to prevent unfair use. It would be a loss to the community if someone was to take someone else's freely contributed code, do a few changes, close the source and sell the software as their own, without compensating the real authors (the community).

        However, of note is that you can sell GPL and other Free Software, just not in the traditional sense. The source has to remain open for the benefit of the community, but there are companies that profit from such software – without harming the community. The best example at the moment is Red Hat. They also sell subscriptions, but in their case they are support subscriptions. People pay so that they could call Red Hat and get support if something breaks, or if the user doesn't know how to operate some piece of software etc. Most of these subscriptions come from the industrial sector, where large companies have enough money to afford that, and they need the support because they use the software in mission-critical tasks. This is a win-win situation: Red Hat gets money, while the community not only doesn't lose anything, but they often gain new features in the software that the clients wanted to see implemented.

        In a sense, this is very similar to the current situation here with the Unreal Engine. The main income source for Epic Games is game studios that want to use the engine for commercial games. Dual licensing allows that to happen, via the proprietary license. It also makes sure that there is a vibrant community, able to realise all of their development potential, bringing popularity and a good name to the engine, while being able to freely share the fruits of their labour, through the Free Software license. Since the product is the same, the things the community produces helps the commercial side, and the things the commercial side produces helps the community. It's a mutualistic relationship.

        So, once again, I ask you, Epic Games, to consider this proposal. What you have started is fantastic, but make sure you go all the way in order for every party to benefit the most.
        Unreal Tournament 4 eXpanded MultiPlayer (UT4XMP) efforts
        My website, listing all my Unreal series mods and mutators

        Comment


          #5
          can't you just ask your mum 20 bucks?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Dune View Post
            While giving away the Engine itself for free on a dual license seems a great idea and can help bolster a much larger community for the development of the game, I can't see it being a viable option right now for Epic. Simply because, without a subscription fee, I could download the engine for free and create a game over a period of time and then subscribe/pay royalties when I want to release. This means that all developers could simply use this approach, which would in essence cut Epics monthly engine profits from $19 * NumOfUsers p/m to $0.
            First off, thanks for contributing! Questions like that is exactly what I think we in the community should work out.

            I think that this wouldn't be a problem, for a simple reason: updates. The moment a company decides to release something commercial, they have to pay the monthly fee. They could just release a game and never update it, but UE updates include security patches and other important features. If they want to update, they have to pay the monthly fee. And actually, it's already that way, a company can just pay a one-shot fee of $20 and develop their game. The monthly fee is for updates, after all. So the potential losses are not $20 per user per month, it's $20 per user for a single time. I don't think that's a significant amount of money, compared to what they would get in return.

            The second reason is third party content. As mentioned, there is probably some third party content that Epic simply can't put under a Free Software license. To obtain that, the companies would have to subscribe to the proprietary version of the engine. Individuals as well, by the way. This would be money well invested, too, as it would probably unlock several features of the editor that otherwise would not be usable in the Free Software version.

            What we would need to be sure is some input from Epic. What part of their revenue stream is the monthly fee, and what is the profit cuts? I'd imagine the latter are much more substantial.

            Originally posted by Bajee View Post
            I don't think this approach would work. A considerable number of people probably just subscribed to play around with the engine and the tools, but not necessarily to release something to the public. I'm in this category. I'm working on a game now, but it's just a hobby project. I don't know if I will ever be able to finish and release it. What license would I use?
            The Free Software license, of course. If you either need the third party content or are sure that you want to release the game for a profit, then you would upgrade to the proprietary license.
            Unreal Tournament 4 eXpanded MultiPlayer (UT4XMP) efforts
            My website, listing all my Unreal series mods and mutators

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by 000tuvok View Post
              can't you just ask your mum 20 bucks?
              put that in the front line of the Skyrim Modding toolkit. see how much Skyrim mods get made anymore.
              Developer of Elium - Prison Escape

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Chosker View Post
                put that in the front line of the Skyrim Modding toolkit. see how much Skyrim mods get made anymore.
                If they sold the entire skyrim engine with all the content for $20/month then I would ... with the ability to make an entirely new game on the engine rather than just spice up some graphics and add a few models and some quest content. When you compare something at least try and compare it properly.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by 000tuvok View Post
                  can't you just ask your mum 20 bucks?
                  Back when I was 13? Definitely not. I was only given a chance to buy something I wanted two times per year, and persuading my parents to buy a video game instead of something like a pillow was a tough thing to do by itself. Persuading them to expend $20 each month for something I might not even be able to make use of would have been utterly impossible. If anything, trying that would have had negative effects, as they would have decided that I was spending too much time on the PC as it is, if I was asking for something like that back then...

                  And that's the other thing. Many here try to claim that $20 isn't much, and sure, for me at the current point in time it really isn't. Epic themselves stated that people will be able to sell their mods on the marketplace to effectively get the money back. But that would be extremely damaging to the community. In the past, all mods were, and had to be, free (aside from those that evolved into their own games, like The Ball). That meant that the community was free to collaborate on their projects, there was no competition. It was all creativity. With the Marketplace being the thing to use to buy back the money spent, everything will compete with everything else, and everything will be paid. That would be going back to free to play, not free.

                  And that's why I'd be reluctant to buy UE4, even though I have the finances for it now. I don't want other people's money! I want the people who use my mods to be happy, instead! But with the current system that would penalise me, by siphoning out $20 per month, despite the fact that I'm trying to do good for the community here, instead of doing it for personal gain! That's the worst thing, the system punishes the most loyal fans, and those who want their work to be a gift for the community, instead of a personal cash flow.
                  Unreal Tournament 4 eXpanded MultiPlayer (UT4XMP) efforts
                  My website, listing all my Unreal series mods and mutators

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Ghiest View Post
                    If they sold the entire skyrim engine with all the content for $20/month then I would ... with the ability to make an entirely new game on the engine rather than just spice up some graphics and add a few models and some quest content. When you compare something at least try and compare it properly.
                    you would, but how many more?
                    that's the thing, most people do not want the entire skyrim engine, they just want to create some weapons or quests. that's why they are called mods
                    Developer of Elium - Prison Escape

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I think that this wouldn't be a problem, for a simple reason: updates. The moment a company decides to release something commercial, they have to pay the monthly fee.
                      Another quick follow up:
                      Are you suggesting that with a Free License model that the Engine would not be updated what-so-ever? I understand that currently people who want the Engine updates will subscribe for $20 a month without just paying a single fee. If so, you would basically have an Engine that is as it stands now, without any updates. However, if you updated the 'Free' version as well (which I'm assuming would be more necessary to keep up to date with new development methods), then again, there would be no need to subscribe unless you wanted to actually release your game (A % of people I'm assuming is a lot lower than are actually paying/paid for the Engine currently).

                      Honestly, I'm all for a free Engine and who wouldn't be, I'm just assuming from a more business orientated perspective, that in the long run Epic would lose out on profits somewhere down the line while still maintaining a similar player count as to what they will achieve anyway.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Dune View Post
                        Another quick follow up:
                        Are you suggesting that with a Free License model that the Engine would not be updated what-so-ever? I understand that currently people who want the Engine updates will subscribe for $20 a month without just paying a single fee. If so, you would basically have an Engine that is as it stands now, without any updates. However, if you updated the 'Free' version as well (which I'm assuming would be more necessary to keep up to date with new development methods), then again, there would be no need to subscribe unless you wanted to actually release your game (A % of people I'm assuming is a lot lower than are actually paying/paid for the Engine currently).

                        Honestly, I'm all for a free Engine and who wouldn't be, I'm just assuming from a more business orientated perspective, that in the long run Epic would lose out on profits somewhere down the line while still maintaining a similar player count as to what they will achieve anyway.
                        No, the Free Software version would always be updated. But the proprietary version would requite the usual $20 fee for any updates.

                        And like I said, we don't know what percentages Epic get from one thing or another. Whether or not it makes sense is for those who have access to the data to decide. But I think the additional publicity and attention would pay off in the long run, too. In fact, this whole idea of a free UT is to increase that, after all.
                        Unreal Tournament 4 eXpanded MultiPlayer (UT4XMP) efforts
                        My website, listing all my Unreal series mods and mutators

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by GreatEmerald View Post
                          No, the Free Software version would always be updated. But the proprietary version would requite the usual $20 fee for any updates.

                          And like I said, we don't know what percentages Epic get from one thing or another. Whether or not it makes sense is for those who have access to the data to decide. But I think the additional publicity and attention would pay off in the long run, too. In fact, this whole idea of a free UT is to increase that, after all.

                          This thread is laughable. I have had enough of the complaining lo these last 2 days.
                          not surprising that the skids will run rampant in the forum after the lastly announcement.
                          Its disgusting. Your proposal makes no sense and would bankrupt any company.

                          Use logic and reasoning for a second.

                          Lets assume in UE4 first month they got 250,000 engine users.
                          We can average out that out of those amount of users only about 5,000 would actually create, finish and sell a game. Especially in the first year.
                          Search around, with all the free access to UDK. how many games were actually released by people?

                          Anyway. So you also have 245,000 people who got the engine to try and test it out, who are either artists, programmer, who want to create a scene or do some work.
                          But never reach the point or have the ambition to finish and release a full game.

                          Profits

                          For the first month, under your proposal.
                          Epic would make 95,000 dollars off the 5,000 subscribers to the proprietary version since the rest got the equally free version.


                          But under epics current model. They would have 250,000 full subscribers and would make 4.7 Million dollars the first month.

                          Hmm I wonder which model epic would pick. they one that would bankrupt their company, have them fire most and if not all of their employees.
                          Or the one that would keep them running?

                          Not just that, but also in the next month. If they were to gain another 50-100,000 users, they would make millions.
                          While in your model they wouldn't even make 20 grand.
                          Finally, they carry over of the subscribers might be over 50%. And there will be subscribers who leave each month only to re-subscribe the next to get new update.

                          You are looking at potential millions every month versus trying to inch out 20 grand a month.

                          This thread is an embarrassment for Epic. You are telling a multi million dollar company that their model is wrong. but you with all the years of experience in running a multi million dollar gaming company, management and economics.
                          your vast experience and results, have conjured up a better profit plan i guess.

                          I guess now all your waiting for is for unreal employees to come post in this forum and say "omg, how could we not see it. this little kid opened our eyes. we now have to switch our model to make this lil kids ideas and make 20,000 a month while giving away our source code. thank you for showing us the way oh great emerald."


                          People are so full of themselves that they can't even comprehend the gravity of the thread they make.
                          Last edited by Bladerskb; 05-09-2014, 12:02 PM.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Your reply is breaking rule #02 of this forum. I will not reply to personal insults, which I find highly demotivating. So far this thread has been fairly clean and constructive, and it's a shame to see attitudes like that.
                            Unreal Tournament 4 eXpanded MultiPlayer (UT4XMP) efforts
                            My website, listing all my Unreal series mods and mutators

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Chosker View Post
                              you would, but how many more?
                              that's the thing, most people do not want the entire skyrim engine, they just want to create some weapons or quests. that's why they are called mods
                              Then go back to making mods for skyrim or UT2k4 or UT99. If you want to make a game rather than just mod then you're in the right place. It's quite simple, you are licensing a full engine with full source not just modding some old creaky game.

                              If you just want to mod I think you are in the completely wrong place, wait tilll the game is done and wait on a decision on whether a lightweight version of the tool set will be produced for modders of UT4 (which I highly doubt).

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