Japanese-headquartered publisher and developer Capcom has become the latest company to license Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 middleware, with the industry stalwart planning to use the graphics engine in a new unannounced project being developed in North America.
The announcement comes just days after a similar announcement from Activision
and continues the technology's run as the most-licensed graphics engine.
Unreal Engine 3 also licensed by publishers and developers including Activision, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Game Studios, Atari, Real Time Worlds, Namco, Midway, Silicon Knights, VU Games, THQ, and Sony Online, and powers Epic's own flagship Xbox 360 title Gears Of War
The announcement is notable because seems to imply either a revitalized internal North American studio (Studio 8, creator of the Maximo
series and Final Fight Streetwise
, was closed down in 2006, according to Internet reports) or a close enough development relationship with an external company that Capcom has purchased Unreal Engine 3 for them.
In addition, it shows another Japanese-headquartered company expressing a greater level of comfort with game engines, following Square Enix’s adoption of Unreal Engine 3
in January, and a period in which Japanese firms have been reluctant to look at middleware.
In fact, Epic's Jay Wilbur has previously commented
on the apparent reluctance and intractability of the Japanese market to use middleware, including Unreal Engine 3, for game development. Wilbur noted: "Japanese game developers are a very talented, very proud group - and rightly so," there's a "general reluctance" for some developers to deviate from previous development methodologies, even if they're using new technology. While the Capcom deal does not cover any Japanese titles, it's nonetheless notable.
"The Unreal Engine is one of the most powerful and versatile tools available for next-generation game development," said Mark Beaumont, executive vice president, officer and head of Capcom consumer software publishing in the Americas and Europe. "More than just a graphics engine, UE3 will empower the development team to create the quality experience that gamers expect from a Capcom product."
Capcom senior director of communications and community Chris Kramer has told gamasutra that "[While] we just recently hired Scot Bayless as our new VP of Product Development here in the US, and announced that we’ve signed a license agreement with Epic for UE3, Capcom Entertainment is not starting any new development teams at this time." This puts to rest, for the time being, any speculation that Capcom might be resuming new U.S. development via an internal team.