Yesterday Kotaku and Gizmodo teamed up to unveil a closer look at the new Unreal Engine by Epic. One of the improvements coming to Unreal Engine is more mobile gaming support in a general sense. While the new Sony handheld system and iOS are supported, Epic has made no plans to announce Android support officially yet.
This, however, does not mean that developers can’t make Android games with it as proven by Trendy Entertainment’s Dungeon Defenders or Southpeak’s Monster Madness games. In fact Mark Rein came out to clarify that they have been issuing licenses for developers to make Android games with over the past several months.
So what is the problem with officially supporting Android at this current time? Hardware inconsistency. Right now the hardware is all over the place making it difficult for developers to just ‘make a game’. However this has been something that has existed in the PC world since the PC was born. The difference is that PC hardware can be upgraded piece by piece. Want to play a game but don’t have enough RAM? Just buy some more RAM then and as long as the rest of your hardware is near the minimum requirements, you should be fine. In the mobile world, this upgrade process isn’t possible.
Another reason that Epic is still holding off on Android support is the file size limit of the Android Market, which currently rests at 50mb. This sort of restriction hinders developers who don’t have the additional funds to support DLC (download-able content). While this isn’t really Epic’s problem, they have made it theirs by supporting developers and their Unreal Engine by wanting to make the experience for developers and gamers consistent across the board.
“When a consumer gets the phone and they wanna play a game that uses our technology, it’s got to be a consistent experience, and we can’t guarantee that [on Android]. That’s what held us off of Android,” said Rein.
“If you took the underlying NGP hardware and shipped Android on it, you’d find far far less performance on Android. Let’s say you took an NGP phone and made four versions of it. Each one would give you a different amount of memory and performance based on the crap [networks] put on their phone.”
“Google needs to be a little more evil. They need to be far more controlling.”
So when could we possibly see Unreal Engine support being made official? Depends on when Google corrects some issues limiting both the market and developers regarding hardware and the OS itself. Google has already been taking steps to address most of these issues so hopefully some order will be restored soon.
You can check out the video of the new Unreal Engine preview over at Kotaku and the full interview over at Gizmodo. About 3/4 of the way through the video they do mention Android. Overall, the upcoming new version of Unreal Engine is looking pretty damn amazing. It’ll be great to see what developer do with it for Android.
Update April 6th, 2011 10:17am: Epic just released the same preview video that Kotaku was showing. We’ve included it below for your viewing pleasure.