Crytek has announced CryEngine 5, a new version of the powerful graphics tool which focuses on the strenuous demands of VR production. The new tools will be released under a "pay what you want" system, with no set price for the service. Instead, Crytek is asking developers to contribute what they can from professional projects. In addition, a percentage of that money can be allocated to the company's developer fund, which is launching with $1 million of company money.
The switch marks a fresh period for the engine, which switched to a subscription model in 2014. As recently as last year, the firm was saying it "saw no reason" to switch to a free model to compete with Unreal and Unity. However, competition from both of those services proved tough and Crytek was looking vulnerable until a deal with Amazon, to licence a version of CryEngine to build the Lumberyard platform, brought in around $70 million in April last year.
The new engine and pricing model were announced by creative director Frank Vitz at a dedicated briefing at GDC today, Crytek's first ever event at the show. Stressing the high-capabilities of CryEngine, VR development was a major focus of the presentation, showcasing The Climb and the company's VR First studios and support program. A new benchmarking tool for VR, VR Score was also premiered at the briefing, including a pre-rendered demo codenamed Skyharbour.
In addition to the fifth iteration of the tool, the company also launched an asset store for pre-made CryEngine assets, with purchases available from the marketplace today.