Amazon Launches Free ‘Lumberyard’ Game Engine For PCs, Consoles, Mobile And VR

The environment for budding game developers is getting friendly all the time with low-cost and no-cost access to capable game engines, some of which skim profits on the backside. Even Amazon is now getting in on the action with a 3D game engine of its own called Lumberyard, and there's one very big reason why developers should be interested—it's free.

There are no upfront costs, no subscription fees, and no royalties to pay if you use Lumberyard to develop a commercial title. It's simply free, period. Lumberyard is also cross-platform and provides free access to its native C++ source code, the programming language that's used in more than 90 percent of the top PC and console games, Amazon says.

Amazon Lumberyard

So what's Amazon's play here? Rather than charge developers to use its game engine or collect royalties, Amazon will line its pockets with revenue from its Amazon Web Services (AWS) that developers connect their games to. According to Amazon, even non-technical game developers can add cloud-connected features to a game within minutes, such as a community news feed, daily gifts, server-side combat resolution, and so forth, all through a drag-and-drop GUI.

This ties in with what Amazon is calling GameLyft, a new service for deploying, operating, and scaling session-based multiplayer titles. GameLyft costs $1.50 per 1,000 daily active users, which is in addition to any other standard AWS services used.

"Many of the world's most popular games are powered by AWS's technology infrastructure platform," said Mike Frazzini, Vice President of Amazon Games. "When we’ve talked to game developers, they've asked for a game engine with the power and capability of leading commercial engines, but that's significantly less expensive, and deeply integrated with AWS for the back-end and Twitch for the gamer community. We're excited to deliver that for our game developers today with the launch of Amazon Lumberyard and Amazon GameLift."

Another thing that could lure developers in is that Lumberyard is integrated with Twitch. This integration allows developers to build gameplay features to engage the more than 1.7 million monthly broadcasters and more than 100 million monthly viewers Twitch currently enjoys.

You might recall that Amazon reportedly spent tens of millions of dollars on a licensing deal with Crytek last year. The relevance here is that Lumberyard is based on Crytek's CryEngine, though it's not a carbon copy. The bigger point is that it's not a chintzy game engine, but one that can be used to make AAA titles.

Lumberyard is available now in beta form for PC and console game developers.