Q&A: Simon Jones, director Unreal Engine Enterprise
Video games development engine Unreal, has been the dominant dev platform in the console and PC gaming sector for some years now. And with the creation of a new division Unreal Engine Enterprise, it is taking its cutting edge gaming technology into business sectors and has already been used in a number of exciting and varied applications, including the use of gaming’s current hot spot – virtual reality. We spoke to director Simon Jones, about the development giant’s plan to get businesses using Unreal to enhance their marketing and design….
Can you explain what Unreal Enterprise is and what its aims are?
Early last year we made the use of Unreal Engine free for everyone. This saw a huge increase in the use of the technology for video games, but also for non-games applications. The launch of Unreal Engine Enterprise is all about building a team that’s focused on this non-games use, and to help the user deliver awesome projects.
Who are typical Enterprise customers?
They come from a diverse range of industries that include automotive, aviation, architecture, data visualization and linear entertainment. There really is no “typical” customer though – our technology is relevant to many sectors.
Do you have any examples of companies in these sectors?
Sure, almost every major car company has a programme in Unreal Engine. Recently Toyota became the first car company in the world to roll out a real-time experience to every retailer in a country. And McLaren and BMW use Unreal Engine as part of their design processes. Outside of the auto industry we’ve seen projects from NASA, IKEA, BBC, Boursin Cheese, Sunseeker and Lockheed Martin.
Have you been surprised by the take-up of Unreal Engine by industry?
There have certainly been projects from partners I might not have expected. IKEA were very quick to adopt HTC Vive with their Kitchen configurator – they were delighted with the feedback from users and even responded to fan feedback by adding the famous IKEA meatballs! This is a great example of how early adoption of new tech can allow a brand to reach new audiences – who could previously have imagined Eurogamer reviewing a kitchen configurator.
Do you think we’ll need new ways of thinking from brands engaging with game technology for the first time?
Yes, absolutely. I think the most impressive ‘out of the box’ thinking I’ve seen so far has been from Framestore, the VFX house responsible for The Martian, Gravity and others. Their project for McCann Erickson and Lockheed Martin was spectacular in its application of Unreal Engine. Rather than being restrained by current generation VR tech, they adapted a school bus to allow 20 children to experience VR together and they made a video of the project.
How does your company change it’s offering for Enterprise customers?
For a start we don’t offer any technology that isn’t available to everyone for free. Understanding our clients project needs is crucial to our being able to provide the highest level of support – Unreal Engine Enterprise is built around a license model, support structure and development roadmap that is entirely focused on use of Unreal Engine by non-games customers.
How do major companies find Unreal Engine partners to work with?
This is great question and we’re working really hard to help here. We’re picking some of the best users cases and focusing on the partners that delivered them – our first four cases studies are live at: https://www.unrealengine.com/enterprise. We welcome enquiries, and our team will help your readers find awesome partners in their specialism, sector or region – whatever their needs. They can have the knowledge that our team, the makers of the engine, are in full support of their project from beginning to end.
What platforms does Unreal Engine work on?
Unreal Engine lets you deploy project to Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, VR (including, but not limited to, SteamVR / HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, Google VR / Daydream and Samsung Gear VR), Linux, SteamOS, and HTML5.
You can run the Unreal Editor on Windows, OS X and Linux.
VR is hot right now, how does Unreal Engine fare on those platforms?
Unreal Engine is well known for its class-leading high-fidelity visuals. When deploying projects to VR that’s only a part of the requirement. For VR with headsets running over 90FPS and low latency being a key driver of great user experience – performance is crucial. Unreal Engine is head and shoulders above other technologies in delivering optimised performance for VR.
The free version of the engine – how does anyone get access to that?
You simply download it at UnrealEngine.com
How do readers get in touch with your team?
They can start by emailing us directly via email@example.com