Gameloft has announced that they are entering in a licensing agreement with Epic Games to utilize the Unreal Engine 3 in some of their upcoming games. While no specific games have been announced, four titles in particular will be utilizing the titles over the next two years. According to Gameloft’s vice president of production, Julien Fournials, “using Unreal Engine 3 allows us to push game visuals with remarkable lighting and high-fidelity environments. We are confident that players will enjoy the games powered by Unreal Engine 3.” Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games (who also had a hand in releasing the first Unreal Engine title on to the App Store, Infinity Blade) also says “There is no doubt that the four games running on Unreal Engine 3 will be visually stunning and take advantage of the powerful mobile gaming devices. We are thrilled to provide our technology to Gameloft and look forward to a lasting collaboration.” The agreement will cover releases for iOS, Android, Playstation Network, as well as set-top boxes.

The importance of this announcement is twofold – one, it shows that Gameloft is definitely leaving older devices behind for good, especially as games like Sacred Odyssey and Starfront Collision have only supported 3rd generation and later devices. Second, their games should be getting some major graphical improvements from the use of Unreal Engine 3. Third, and most importantly, Gameloft may be preparing for multiplatform game development. Games like Dungeon Defenders: First Wave have been developed using Unreal Engine and have been easily made to support the various platforms that Unreal Engine 3 now runs on. This move may have been in part to help get their games running on Android and even consoles easier, particularly as the budget for their games likely outclasses most of the other games on the App Store, so maximizing the value they get from their games by releasing them across as many platforms as possible may be the goal here.

Considering that Gameloft is one of the power players in the mobile gaming industry, this move to take advantage of Unreal Engine could signal a wider-reaching movement in the mobile gaming industry. As well, Epic Games has recently announced that they will not charge any royalties on projects made with the Unreal Development Kit for revenue under $50,000, raised from the previous $5,000 floor. With this move, there’s a chance 2011 could see lots more titles made with the Unreal Engine 3 on the App Store from all kinds of publishers and developers big and small.

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