Source: Pexels by Tima Miroshnichenko
Today’s world of tech is not without video games, which have become increasingly popular and are frequently used as marketing in the entertainment business. The entertainment industry is the core of storytelling across mediums and the collaboration with game engines amplifies their value. Game engines sell virtually aesthetic narratives that operate as a huge investment for the future of the work of entertainment.
A game engine is a software used to develop and improve games. It can be also called a game architect or game framework because it provides tools for creating games. Its functionalities include 2D/3D graphics, animations, artificial intelligence, physics engine, sound effects, networking, streaming, memory management, and video production.
Since 1993, game engines have evolved from being designed from scratch as there was little hardware space for every specific use, to a reusable software with a suite of tools and features that is widely available for commercial use. Game engines today provide the entertainment industry the opportunity to visualize data, products like animation videos, graphics models, and processes like audio effects, film making, and streaming in new ways.
This is a product of of the platform’s flexibility, which provides the core functionality required to develop a game application while reducing costs and time-to-market without the hassle of coding or the technicalities of game development. This allows game engines to run on different platforms like the web, computers, mobile phones, play stations, and iPads. This extensibility provides a wide variety of uses to which game engines can be applied such as marketing demos, training simulations, and architectural visualisations.
Analysing the most popular game engines – Unity and Unreal
Two popular engines dominate the game engine industry: Unity and Unreal.
Launched in 2005, Unity is a beginner-friendly game engine developed by Unity Technologies which aims to make game development accessible to everyone. The company believes that an interactive experience on Unity will make it easy to use and hence friendly for anyone to access. Unity engine was adopted by the film industry for its two-dimensional and three-dimensional simulations in addition to the interactive user experience it provided. Its second to fifth versions were launched between 2007 and 2015 with each launch prompted by new features such as video playbacks, audio filters, and cinematic image effects to ease collaborations, support, and accessibility. In 2017 however, Unity changed its version numbering system to represent the year of release, aligning the versioning with a more frequent release cadence.
Since 2017, Unity has updated numerous features, running on more than 1.5 billion devices. In 2022, Financial times reported that Unity’s engine “powers some of the world’s most lucrative mobile games.” including Pokemon Go and Activision’s recent Call of Duty Mobile. Unity also bought Ziva Dynamics, a tech company focused on complex simulations and real-time character creation.
Unity caters to multiple platforms like the mobile, desktop, web, and console platforms. Unity gives users the ability to create games and experiences in both 2D and 3D. The company offers a free version for personal use while enterprise users can subscribe via a monthly paid service to attain more functionalities and business branding capabilities.
Unreal is a gaming engine developed by Epic Games, first launched in 1998. Since its inception, Unreal Engine has expanded into 3D gaming. Its second to fourth versions were launched between 2002 to 2015 with modifications of features trailing each version down to the most recent. However, its most up-to-date iteration, Unreal Engine 5, which was revealed in 2020 was launched in April 2022. The goal was to enable the easy creation of detailed game worlds without spending time to create new detailed assets, so it uses a blueprint. The Unreal engine 5 version uses a technique called virtual shadowing to deliver consistent high resolution shadowing that works with film quality assets, it was also updated with high-speed storage and a metahuman creator to develop realistic human characters.
Unlike its previous iterations, which used a subscription model, Unreal Engine 5 was made available for free download. It was then based on a royalty model after the first 1 million USD in gross revenue.
How game engines affect the entertainment business
Unity and Unreal game engines both provide creative ways for collaboration in the entertainment industry with a focus on music videos and movies. In the 2010s, Unity Technologies used its game engine to transition into the film industry using the real-time 3D platform in augmented and virtual reality as found in video animations and computer-generated films. This paved an opportunity for the film industry to explore their collaboration.
Unity’s first collaboration was Adam, a short film about a robot escaping from prison. Later, Unity partnered with filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, whose studios used the engine’s tools, including real-time rendering and cinematics, to create two computer-generated short films, Adam: The Mirror and Adam: The Prophet.
In 2018, Disney Television Animation launched three shorts, entitled Baymax Dreams, all created using the Unity engine. The Unity engine was also used by Disney to create backgrounds for the 2019 film The Lion King and aims to bring video games into the real world.
Unreal technologies have been used in the television series The Mandalorian and Westworld. With the series Westworld integrating the use of Unreal Engine with StageCraft for its third season. The Unreal game engine was also used in the production of the movie Matrix awakens.
The leveraging of game engines through virtual reality in the entertainment business has come to stay. Not just because the game industry is projected to grow by 30% in 2023, however; video games make more revenue each year in comparison to movies, TV, and music. So, the collaboration of the entertainment industry with the video game industry through the use of game engines will broaden their audience, minimise the cost of production and increase gross revenue for both video and audio entertainment.
This will also ensure the entertainment industry is kept at par with the changing trends of technology such as the metaverse, thereby presenting entertainment in the scope of virtual reality. Increased value for the business of entertainment is the fundamental role of game engines in this industry. This is ingrained in the fact that game engines, which are available for almost free, employ their core functionalities in revolutionising audio and video effects for TV series, movies, and music videos without the apparent technicalities in game development. Game engines have also reduced the challenge of breaking into the entertainment industry, especially for entrepreneurs, artists and actors as it has leveled the playing field for everyone in the business of entertainment.