It’s truly an astonishing time to be a game developer, with the arrival of not only one, but two free game engines. And they’re not from small-fry development houses, either.

First, Epic Games made its super-powerful Unreal Engine 4 available for free to anyone who wants it, and now Valve Software has not only announced the followup to its Source engine (called, of course, Source 2) but that it will be “free to content developers”.

That’s the news straight from the SteamDB Blog about the announcement that happened yesterday at the Game Developer’s Conference that’s currently underway in San Francisco.

Source was the engine that debuted with Valve’s super-successful Half-Life 2 and Counter-strike: Source games back in 2004, and has been used in a handful of games ever since. To see the current state of what it’s capable of, take a look at Titanfall, Respawn Entertainment’s giant-robot multiplayer game, which I am sure you’ll agree is quite the looker. Source 2 should allow for even prettier graphics in future games.

It’s not just professional developers who will benefit; Valve is clearly hoping to involve regular gamers in the game-creation process with this move.

“Given how important user generated content is becoming, Source 2 is designed not for just the professional developer, but enabling gamers themselves to participate in the creation and development of their favorite [sic] games,” said Valve’s Jay Stelly.

Valve has not confirmed whether games made using Source 2 will carry a royalty fee like Unreal Engine 4 does for projects that make money.

Alongside Update 5 to the Unity game engine that makes a lot of the Pro features from 4 available for free, this development should have a palpable impact on game development in general. And that can only be a good thing.

[Source – SteamDB Blog, Image – CC-BY-2.0/Tim Eulitz]
Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.