Unreal Engine 4 isn't the only new game engine to adopt a subscription-based pricing model. Crytek has announced an "engine-as-a-service" program for CryEngine. Starting in May, subscribers will be able to get their hands on the full CryEngine toolset for just $9.90 per month—about half the monthly fee attached to Unreal Engine 4. And, unlike with UE4, CryEngine's terms are royalty-free.
So, I guess the battle to power the next generation of indie games has begun then.
Crytek will continue to offer its free CryEngine SDK, but that version of the engine won't adopt the new features revealed earlier at GDC. Subscribers will have access to all the latest goodies and, one would hope, the planned updates that add Mantle and Linux support to the engine. There's no mention of how much source code and what sort of support structure will be available to folks who buy in to the engine, though.
More information about CryEngine-as-a-service will be revealed "in the near future." The official announcement is surprisingly short on details, which is curious considering the timing of the UE4 reveal. If subscriptions were part of Crytek's plans all along, you'd think the company would have whipped up a video trailer to hype the program.
Even if this was a reactionary move, I'm still amazed that developers will be able to get their hands on a cutting-edge game engine for barely more than a Netflix subscription. With multiple affordable engines now available to developers, I suspect the indie gaming scene will get even bigger.