EPIC Games is a studio that to me epitomizes a singular studio that has the power to define a console. With their unreal engine tech, its usability and how so many developers license it to make their games on the list of Unreal Engine 3 games clearly show the sheer amount of developers working with the engine and the nature of the games that it is used to develop. With EPIC Games designing their engine for certain hardware it leaves the systems that they do not do this for with the choice, the development studio could try to shoehorn the engine or older versions onto the system that provides a less than ideal result and initiates what could be a costly exercise, or find some other engine. Finding another engine to develop a game on is mostly a non-choice because when its a multi-platform game it seldom works out the best, leaving then the systems without UE compatibility out of a multi-platform IP.

With all the Project Cafe rumours running about, one of them is very intriguing to me. A rumour dictates that Cafe is poised to developers as a system that is very easily portable from the Xbox360, this to me seems to be a direct statement at Unreal Engine 3. EPIC have been very vocal in the past about how Nintendo’s systems cannot run EPIC technology so they will not alter or “downsize” their engine to suit their systems. The rumour is backed up with more information that a certain publisher (ahemmm Ubisoft) is planning to take full advantage of this and port a ton of content onto the system. The aforementioned publisher is my opinion and speculation as it seems to be really in their style of being able to take advantage of launch periods.

So what will EPIC Games have to say about Project Cafe, I have to admit I’m highly anticipating what Mark Rein has to say about the system. Will they cater Unreal Engine 3 to Cafe? If they did it would give the system a big boost within its early life cycle. I don’t know everything about development costs, but I would assume it would be a better financial investment having the same team of developers working on a same engine port to Cafe at the same time of original development than to hire another group of developers to create a different version of the game on another engine like has been the practice for Wii ports. I would also wonder if Cafe had been out or if Bulletstorm was still in the pipeline for a later release, would it have a Cafe version? Maybe this could be answered if there if a Bulletstorm 2 or another multi-platform project that EPIC Games spearheads, with Cliffy B as director.

Chances of EPIC catering UE3 to Cafe, I’d say are 50/50. They are constantly developing the engine to future iterations so why would they not at least explore compatibility with Cafe. It would mean more license fee remuneration to them for funding their engine and games. Reason why I say 50/50 is that EPIC have went on record to say that they expect UE4 to launch in 2012, same year as Cafe. The big question is, is Cafe capable of running UE4.

Above is the Unreal Engine 3 “Samaritan” Real-Time Demo in HD, this is what I would assume as a ‘target render’ for what UE4 will be able to do. Now will Cafe be able to produce this? If EPIC releases this version of UE3 on Cafe, it would be a massive deal for Nintendo, they are trying to recover relationships with 3rd parties, now if 3rd parties have access to the tools they are familiar to produce the core content that consumers are looking for on a regular basis, I can’t see much more that Nintendo can do for 3rd parties than offer advice and assistance. At the end of the day it is up to the developer to create compelling content for the game to make people buy it, I personally see that as the biggest flaw within the Wii’s life cycle. Developers exclaimed that 3rd party software did not sell on Nintendo systems, this was a cop-out, they did not create compelling content for the system or on multi-platform titles 90% of the time the Wii version was missing key components that just convinced consumers to buy it for the other systems if they were fortunate enough to own a 2nd system.

EPIC Games and Unreal Engine 3/4 isn’t the end all be all for core mechanic games on future Nintendo systems, but it is a key contributing factor. The tell of the tale will be the support given to the systems by Crytek and CryEngine3 or future iterations, and if DICE bring their Frostbite 2 engine to the system, these to me are two of the most promising engines out there within the development community. {note: Capcoms MT Framework is another but as it’s ‘Capcom Exclusive’ and not licensed to other developers I excluded it}