Game engines are now being used by different industries for their ability to create realistic images and manipulate them in 3D. Epic Games with its Unreal Engine and Unity Technologies both enjoy a revenue stream from licensing their game engines, which also power popular games from “Fortnite” to “Pokémon Go.” Designers and engineers combine game engines with virtual reality headsets to build products and other assets in an environment they find helps them be more creative and quicker to solve problems.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Unity vice president of engineering Brett Bibby said he is working with “hundreds of firms in sectors including architecture and construction to develop applications using its technology.”
According to Wedbush Securities managing director for equity research Michael Pachter, about 1,000 PC games, 200 console games and more than 20,000 mobile games have been made with gaming engines. The basic Unity software is free for personal use and organizations with funding under $100,000 per year, but the company “charges for versions that come with support and other services.”
Game developers that want to license the engines typically pay $50,000 to $250,000 per game or a cut of sales; Pachter estimated that “Unity and Epic made roughly $200 million each annually from the engines.” Big video games, however, are still their major driving economic force. Epic has made $3.5 billion from “Fortnite” every year since its 2017 release, said Pachter.
Game engines, says WSJ, “illustrate the videogame industry’s outsize impact on technology,” with GPUs “powering artificial-intelligence systems … [and] technology derived from Microsoft’s Xbox is used to secure Internet of Things devices.”
McLaren Automotive designers have used the Unreal Engine for “more than a year to create, evaluate and fine-tune digital car models.” The company head of design operations Mark Roberts reported that “it’s really paying dividends because it is dramatically speeding up the process.” McLaren is slated to release 18 new cars between 2018 and 2025, “all involving the use of gaming engines.”
Other verticals relying on game engine technology include pharmaceuticals. C4X Discovery Holdings is using Unreal game engines to “discover molecules that help fight diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ulcerative colitis, then licenses the resulting drugs to customers.”
Chief executive Clive Dix noted that “normally you are guessing what a new molecule you make will look like.” “Now you can see what it looks like and know it is the right shape,” he said. “Or you can tweak it a little bit and make another molecule that’s very similar but it is slightly better.”