Business, Entertainment, Software Programs

CryTek: Developers moved away from PC due to piracy

Former colleague at my old mag PC Play interviewed Carl Jones, Director of Business Development and Engine Licensing at CryTek. In the interview, Carl explained the state of CryENGINE and the business decisions that lead to development of CryENGINE 3. This is a small excerpt from the interview itself:

Q: A question regarding CryEngine 2. Can you tell us how well did it go with licensing, and did it satisfied your expectations at that matter?
Carl Jones: Licensing a PC-only engine was made difficult in the last few years due to the changing nature of the games market itself. Piracy hurt PC-only games in terms of sales figures, so publishers and developers moved away from making such titles. As a result, console middleware was more widespread than PC focused technology such as CryENGINE 1 and 2, but we have had some great successes and developers are working on great looking games that will launch soon, that started out on earlier versions of CryENGINE. We?re happy with the quality we achieved, but circumstances limited the quantity of licensees we signed up. That won?t be an issue with CryENGINE 3!

 Can you tell us something about sheer hardware power of today’s consoles, specifically PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360? How much are you able to squeeze out of them with CryEngine 3?
Carl Jones: Always for Crytek, the PC will be the highest performing platform and CryENGINE 3 is no exception – simply because PC technology has upgraded several times during the life cycle of the console. Having said that, we?re delighted with the performance we?re achieving on PS3 and Xbox 360 – we can run massive worlds at incredibly high quality on both platforms. We?re confident we?re going to set a new benchmark for what is possible in the current console generation.

 How well does CryEngine┬« 3 use the advantage of dual-core and quad-core PC CPUs? From a gamer’s standpoint, if I own an Intel Core 2 Quad, will I have to upgrade to i7 in order to flawlessly run upcoming CryEngine 3-powered titles?
Carl Jones: CryENGINE 3 has been built to take full advantage of multi-core systems, past, present and future. You will get great performance in CryENGINE 3 on your dual-core and quad-core CPUs, but of course, if you upgrade, you?ll see the performance increase further. In the development of CryENGINE 3 we have been working really hard on solutions that enable phenomenal looking games on both the low and high end – so you won?t need to upgrade by any means to get great results from CryENGINE 3 games. 

 Since multiplatform games are what many publishers want nowadays, how are they easy to make with CryEngine 3 and how compatible is CryEngine 3 between target platforms? More specifically, if PC is a lead platform of my game, but I want it to be on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 also (and vice versa), how easy is the process of porting with CryEngine 3?
Carl Jones: With CryENGINE 3 – you don?t really port to each supported platform – you build your game to run on CryENGINE 3 and it will run on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Your lead platform is now simply a matter of design – not a requirement to favour one development approach over another due to technical limitations.  There are differences between the platforms, but these are easy to play with in Sandbox and CryENGINE 3, allowing you to mix and match solutions, asset quality and quantity to get the best results on each.

CryEngine 3 showcases amazing water effects on both consoles and PCs - ATI Evergreen launch, September 2009
CryEngine 3 showcases amazing water effects on both consoles and PCs – ATI Evergreen launch, September 2009

You can read the whole interview by clicking on this link.

Editor’s Comment

In all honesty, we can completely understand the rampant issue of piracy and there is a worrisome number that I won’t stop repeating. Crytek is a good example of a company that wanted to stay PC-only but simply could not build a business model due to multi-million dollar damages caused by prospective buyers opting for a pirated copy of the game. When Epic Games released their Unreal Tournament III game, they marked 40 million different installations trying to access online servers for multiplayer action.

In short, if those 40 million people went on and purchased the game instead of downloading it from The Pirate Bay and similar sites, Epic Games would have earned approximately two billion dollars [40M times $49.95 recommended price, minus some $39.95 in US and plus some Euro 49.99/$62.44 at the time in EU lands]. Now, imagine what would Epic be able to do if they had an influx in excess over a billion dollars. Would Unreal Engine 4 need 4-6 years to develop in a limited budget or could Tim hire as many people as he needs and deliver an engine perfectly optimized for a whole spectrum of PC hardware?

No matter what, taking a look at how Gran Turismo 5 looks and then bear in mind they are internally using a 1080i resolution with a trick or two to achieve 1080p output on a castrated GeForce 7900 GTX [memory interface is cut in half to 128-bit]. Now, what would happen if CryTek or Epic had a budget of 200-300 million dollars to develop the engines they would want to develop? Bear in mind they would not ask for money, but that is the money that they earned.

Now, if you want to imply that it is ok to pirate the game, I would wholeheartedly recommend you to think what would happen if you would get the same treatment as a user of pirated software gives to developers. It would suck working overtime for four-five years and earn no salary, right?