While the Unreal Series had been seen on consoles, Epic Games did not really have game that had as much success as the Unreal Series did on PC. Enter Gears of War. Gears of War is a third-person shooter where you find yourself part of Delta Squad, trying to fight off the subterranean enemy known as Locust. The first game in the series released on November 7, 2006 as an exclusive title for the Xbox 360. It sold over 3 million copies in just 10 weeks making it the fastest selling video game of 2006, and the second most played game over Xbox Live in 2007. This game became a reason to purchase an Xbox 360 if you did not already have one, much like Halo did with the original Xbox. Gears of War 3 was based on Unreal Engine 3, which brought with it high dynamic range rendering (HDRR), per-pixel lighting, and dynamic shadows. The game’s lead designer Cliff Bleszinski became an instant celebrity. He flaunted his cash, cars and women on the internet and matured into the personality that we know today.
Just twelve days after releasing Gear of War on the Xbox 360, Epic released Unreal Tournament 3 on the PC, which as of today, would give PC gamers the last Unreal Tournament game. The game would later be released on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 as well. Just like previous versions of the game, it received great reviews from critics and the gaming community. In March 2008 it was announced that Unreal Tournament 3 had sold over 1 million copies worldwide.
With the popularity of Gears of War, the sequel Gears of War 2 was released on November 7, 2008. The game is based on a heavily modified Unreal 3 engine and takes place 6 months after the events of the original game. In its opening weekend, the game sold 2 million copies, and within 2 months it had sold 4 million copies.
2010 saw the popularity of mobile games rise significantly as products such as Apple’s iPad and other tablets were getting in the hands of gamers. Epic released Infinity Blade for iOS on December 9, 2010. It is an action role-playing game and was the first iOS game to run on Unreal Engine. It is the fastest grossing app in history on the App Store, selling more than 270,000 copies and making $1.6 million in just 4 days. By the end of 2011 it had made at least $23 million in revenue. Infinity Blade’s sequel Infinity Blade II was released on December 1, 2011. It was the first iOS game to score a perfect 10 out of 10 score on IGN.
Gamers received their latest installment of the Gears of War series in Gears of War 3 on September 20, 2011. The game sold 3 million copies during its first week, more than the 2 previous Gears games. Many people consider the third installment to be the best Gears game to date.
Again, I still cannot believe it has been 20 years for Epic Games. That is quite an accomplishment for any company creating video games. Epic has given us some of the best first person shooters for PC, arguably the best game and franchise for the Xbox 360, and a cult-like following in the video game industry. Just thinking of some of these games brings back great memories of playing at LAN parties and on the internet with friends.
What is next for Epic? We expect them to continue both the Gears of War and Infinity Blade series of games, but what about Unreal Tournament? It would be great to see a new Unreal Game for PC, but I believe it is a few years off. Epic is working on Unreal Engine 4, which was shown to select people at this years Game Developers Conference. I would guess that is what the next Unreal Tournament game will be based off of. In any case I want to thank Epic Games for 20 years of great games!