Unreal Engine is owned by Epic Games, Inc., an American video game and software development company. Tim Sweeney founded the company in 1991, and it's headquartered in Cary, North Carolina. Epic Games is well-known for creating games like "Fortnite" and the Unreal, Gears of War, and Infinity Blade series. Unreal Engine is one of the most popular game engines used for developing video games, simulations, and visualizations.
The first version of Unreal Engine was developed by Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, for the first-person shooter game "Unreal," which was released in 1998. Since then, the engine has undergone significant changes and updates, leading to several version releases such as Unreal Engine 2, Unreal Engine 3, Unreal Engine 4 and most recently, Unreal Engine 5, which has set a new standard for real-time graphics and game development.
Epic Games makes Unreal Engine available to developers under a licensing model that allows free access to the engine's complete toolset. They monetize the engine by requiring a royalty on gross revenue for commercial products made with Unreal Engine after they exceed a certain revenue threshold.
Here’s an example of how developers can license Unreal Engine:
These terms are subject to change, and developers should review the latest licensing agreement provided by Epic Games for current details. Unreal Engine continues to evolve, with plans for extended reality (XR) support and other cutting-edge features, making it a central player in the game development industry and beyond.