Unreal Engine 4 was designed to keep game development costs down, says Mike Capps.

The Epic president was concerned that skyrocketing development costs would dissuade investment and trigger a gaming industry decline.

“You saw what happened when we went from the Unreal Engine 2 to 3 generation in terms of the complexity of making games and the budgets that came along with that,” said Capps.

“If we don’t want to have 500-person teams on Gears of War 7 or whatever it is, we have to find a way to increase efficiency because you know next generation is going to have cooler graphics, more power, and more memory, and we’re all going to want to compete to be the very best looking.”

According to Capps, the Unreal team made “philosophical” changes with Unreal Engine 4, which allow “designers and creative people to take charge of as much of the game production process as possible”.

The engine would blur the boundaries between programmer and designer, said Capps, which meant that new ideas could be quickly iterated upon.

Traditionally, designers would rely on programmers to bring their ideas to life, and that downtime would cost money.

“We’re just not going to win unless we find a way to be more efficient,” said Capps.

Epic’s Tim Sweeney agreed.

“First and foremost you need to have a viable business model for the next generation in order to thrive,” he said.

“If every project costs more to produce than it can realistically earn, then the industry will decline because companies will stop making those investments.”

Epic's Unreal Engine 4 was unveiled at this year’s Game Developers Conference.