Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Freemium Game Engine... SAY WAT?!
You know how Amazon licensed the CryEngine from Crytek last year, and no one really knew why? Well it turns out that Amazon is getting into the video game industry with Lumberyard. But that's not the really interesting part.
The most interesting part of this project is that it's a free license to develop from. And not free like the
CryEngine, which was free for students and hobbyists, charged if you wanted to take a product to market. Lumberyard on the other hand is free for anyone to publish their game, whether hobbyist or business. Amazon's only serious requirement is that you register your game with them before release, and that web services, like servers be hosted through them. Long short they're playing the freemium game, but with servers instead of micro-transactions.
So, I know I brought up 2 dirty words to a lot of gamers; freemium and micro-transactions. However, none of the features of the Lumberyard tools will be locked behind a pay-wall, and from what I can tell there are no licensing fees either. To highlight these points, I've directly pulled down a few interesting bits from the FAQ section (I kept the existing links in so that you can click around if you want to. They will open in other tabs):
Q. What is Amazon Lumberyard?
Amazon Lumberyard is a free AAA game engine deeply integrated with AWS and Twitch – with full source code provided. Whether you are a major studio, an indie developer, a student, or a hobbyist, Lumberyard provides a growing set of tools to create the highest-quality games, connect your games to the vast compute and storage of the AWS Cloud, and engage fans on Twitch. Lumberyard helps developers build beautiful worlds, make realistic characters, and create stunning real-time effects. With Lumberyard’s visual scripting tool, even non-technical game developers can add cloud-connected features to a game in minutes (such as a community news feed, daily gifts, or server-side combat resolution) through a drag-and-drop GUI interface. Lumberyard is also integrated with Amazon GameLift, a new AWS service for deploying, operating, and scaling session-based multiplayer games. With Amazon GameLift, Amazon Lumberyard developers can quickly scale high-performance game servers up and down to meet player demand, without any additional engineering effort or upfront costs.
Amazon Lumberyard is free, and available in beta for developers building PC and console games, with mobile and virtual reality (VR) platforms coming soon. With Amazon Lumberyard, developers only pay standard AWS fees for the AWS services they choose to use. With Amazon GameLift, you simply pay for the standard AWS fees for Amazon EC2, Amazon EBS, and data transfer you actually use, plus a small fee per Daily Active User.
Q. How does Amazon make money with Lumberyard?
Lumberyard is free, including source. We make money when you use other
AWS services. We built Lumberyard to make it faster and easier to build fantastic live, multiplayer, community-driven games – which naturally connect to the cloud to provide these features to players. However, there is no requirement to connect your game to the cloud. There are also no seat fees, subscription fees, or requirements to share revenue. You pay only for the infrastructure resources you choose to use. For full licensing details, see Licensing below.
Q. Can I use Lumberyard for non-game purposes, such as architecture, simulations, and animated movies?
Yes, please do.
Q. If I build a single-player game that uses no cloud connectivity, do I have to pay to use the engine?
No, in this case you would pay us nothing.
Q. Do I need an AWS account to use Lumberyard?
No, but by downloading or using Lumberyard, you agree to the AWS Customer Agreement and Lumberyard Service Terms. If you want to use Amazon GameLift or Lumberyard’s Cloud Canvas to build connected gameplay features, you or someone from your game team needs to register for an AWS account and provision services to your account.
Q. Do I have to run my game on AWS?
No. If you own and operate your own private servers, you do not need to use AWS. You also don’t need to use AWS if your game does not use any servers. For example, if you release a free-standing single‐player or local-only multiplayer game, you pay us nothing.
Q. Is there a surcharge or other additional fee over and above AWS service rates for Lumberyard customers?
Q. Can my game use an alternate web service instead of AWS?
No. If your game servers use a non-AWS alternate web service, we obviously don’t make any money, and it’s more difficult for us to support future development of Lumberyard. By “alternate web service” we mean any non-AWS web service that is similar to or can act as a replacement for Amazon EC2, Amazon Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon RDS, Amazon S3, Amazon EBS, Amazon EC2 Container Service, or Amazon GameLift. You can use hardware you own and operate for your game servers.
Q. Is it okay for me to use my own servers?
Yes. You can use hardware you own and operate for your game.
Q. Can I use the game assets that are included with Lumberyard in my game?
Yes. Lumberyard includes asset packs that you can use in your games and prototypes. We also provide additional high-fidelity assets and samples that you may find useful on our website.
Q. Is Lumberyard “open source”?
No. We make the source code available to enable you to fully customize your game, but your rights are limited by the Lumberyard Service Terms.
For example, you may not publicly release the Lumberyard engine source code, or use it to release your own game engine.
Q. Can I take Lumberyard and make my own game engine and distribute it?
No. While you may maintain an internal version of Lumberyard that you have modified, you may not distribute that modified version in source code form, or as a freestanding game engine to third parties. You also may not use Lumberyard to distribute your own game engine, to make improvements to another game engine, or otherwise compete with Lumberyard or Amazon GameLift.
It appears that Amazon is really going in a new direction as far as game development goes. I went ahead and browsed over the documentation, and sample assets and their both pretty on point. Amazon is reporting that they are planning releasing more sample asset packs in the future. If your still not convinced here's a few more entries from their FAQs that might convince you that Amazon is really thinking forward:
Q. Can my Lumberyard game connect to services like Steamworks, Apple Game Center, Google Play Games, or console social services?
Yes. Your game may read and write data to platform services and public third-party game services for player save state, identity, social graph, matchmaking, chat, notifications, achievements, leaderboards, advertising, player acquisition, in-game purchasing, analytics, and crash reporting.
Q. Can I include Lumberyard’s tools so my players can build mods for my game?
Yes. Your right to redistribute Lumberyard in your game includes the right to redistribute pieces of the development environment in your game too. A list of redistributable components is included in the documentation. These rights also apply to companion products that you make available to end users to modify and create derivative works of your game. If you want to distribute Lumberyard components in source code form, please contact us.
Q. Does Lumberyard support integrations with third-party middleware?
Yes. If you’re a middleware provider interested in integrating with Lumberyard, please contact us
After looking over everything that Amazon is giving away, you might be curious as to why would they do this. I think the real question is why wouldn't they. By requiring developers to register their games before release, Amazon gets a sneak peak at new games, and can decide to if they want to invest before any other publishers can get the drop on them. Plus this gives them the ability to make some serious cash for server fees. I recommend that you check out the project in full for yourself. Cruise on over to Lumberyard's site and check it out.
What do you think? You going to give it a go? If you heard about it here and do make something, let me know, I'd love to have a look. Thanks again for stopping by. Your support means so much to me. Don't forget to share, and comment. Please make sure to follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Also if you want to game with me sometime, make sure you add me to your friends list on pretty much every platform, just search for Chali Baicunn. And as always, I'll see you next time.