Epic Games is creating a new studio to make "original standalone experiences” that aim to “push the boundaries of graphics and game development forward”, according to an official blog post (opens in new tab).
The new studio is comprised of developers from Plastic, a small team that’s best known for creating experimental, self-contained demos that showcase novel ideas and development techniques.
There are no details on what the team’s new projects under Epic will be, or what makes them “experiences” over traditional games.
The blog post does, however, point to several job listings (opens in new tab) for the new studio, including a technical animator, UI programmer, senior engine programmer, GPU programmer, and producer.
The job descriptions emphasize Plastic’s experience in creating graphically ambitious games by embracing “the bleeding edge of technological advances”, and requests candidates who are willing to “push Unreal Engine 5 to its limits” (opens in new tab).
Plastic’s past games have included the platformer Bound, adventure game Datura, and self-styled interactive digital art experiment Linger in Shadows.
“They are an incredible group of talent who have created genre-defining experiences that sit on the bleeding edge of technological advances, pushing hardware to the limits in a beautifully artistic way,” Hector Sanchez, Head of Epic Games, said about Plastic.
Analysis: lots of pretty pictures
The framing of Epic’s announcement suggests the new studio will focus on creating games that are first and foremost graphically impressive. The roster of job openings, their emphasis on technically-inclined candidates, and the explicit ambition to break new ground with Unreal Engine give the impression the studio will be spending more time experimenting with Epic’s in-house technology than crafting entertaining games for players.
Of course, it won’t actually be creating games at all, but “experiences”. While the meaning of the term is unclear - and has likely been left so - it’s strikingly similar to the terminology Epic used last year in its title of The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience. That wasn’t so much a game as it was a tech demo that showcased the most ambitious and cutting-edge features of Unreal Engine 5 to stir up excitement around the platform.
This new studio could be doing something similar, and the emphasis on technological advancement through standalone releases certainly lends weight to the idea. How closely their experiences will resemble the Matrix tie-in remains to be seen, however. Plastic may place themselves in the demoscene, but they’re also a game developer.
We might expect to see the first fruits of their work later this year. Although released in early access in the middle of 2021, Unreal Engine 5 is expected to fully launch sometime in the next 12 months. What better way for the new studio to strut its stuff than with an impressive ‘experience’ to accompany the launch.
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