I'm new to game development and considered using the Unreal Development Kid for a test game. The website states it is free for non-commercial use. I know that games that can be obtained free of charge are considered non-commercial.

However, my mind came up with the question: What are free-to-play games with cash-shops categorized as? Not saying I'm planning to embed one in my test game, that would be just non-sense.

A quick Google search couldn't come up with any answer, especially since I'm unsure of what to search.



From the faq link I put on @eBusiness's answer, in reference to what money requires the 25% royalty while using a comercial license:

...includes, but is not limited to, revenue earned from: sales, advertisements, sponsorships, endorsements, subscription fees, microtransactions, in-game item or service sales, rentals, pay-to-play, services you sell or are remunerated for in connection with the use of your application and amounts a third party pays You to develop or use the application.

You need a commercial license for in-game sales.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ In other words "games that can be obtained free of charge are considered non-commercial" is completely wrong. If any money is made - from players, ads, or selling email addresses - it is commercial. This is typically true. \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Apr 29 '13 at 1:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, although I would suspect that truly enforcing the ban on ads is difficult. This is the same problem the writers strike dealt with, however many years ago. "Of course the writers aren't owed any royalties. We didn't sell those sitcom video clips for which they wrote the jokes! It was merely the sole purpose that viewers came to our ad-slathered website!" Provability of the source of income becomes a real problem, and there will certainly be an indistinct threshold below which Epic will not litigate you. It's a tough topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Seth Battin Apr 29 '13 at 1:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Being hard to enforce and being legal are two different things... but it's a valid point. \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Apr 29 '13 at 1:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ No doubt. I wouldn't want my income to be based upon a large company's legal staff simply not noticing me. A cease-and-desist probably takes about 5 minutes for a staff lawyer to write from a template. Ignoring it would be unwise. \$\endgroup\$ – Seth Battin Apr 29 '13 at 1:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. I haven't had a lot of time to read through all that stuff yet. After all, it's quite a work to do and I was setting for an unpublished test project... So thanks for your effort. @DanRasmussen Let's just say that's the short version of what I know. I wanted to keep the question brief. \$\endgroup\$ – Kiruse Apr 29 '13 at 15:59


...refers to an activity or entity that does not in some sense involve commerce.

An in-game shop involves commerce.

If you make money directly from the game, it's a commercial game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I see. That's a good rule of thumb to go by. Should have found that one too with a little more sense... one can find virtually everything on that site. \$\endgroup\$ – Kiruse Apr 29 '13 at 16:02

First of all, read the terms of free use for the desired product, they will usually contain a much more specific phrasing.

It is hard to define a strict definition for what is commercial and what is non-commercial, a prominent borderline case is a good given out for free to promote a commercial product. It is still commercial, but what if the good doesn't mention the promoted product? Perhaps it only bears the company name. What if the advertising is distributed along with but the product itself bear no marks of advertising?

You will almost never see words like commercial in legalese without a preceding strict definition of the word, since using a word without a strict definition makes for weak ambiguous contracts.

Unreal Development Kit

I'd be surprised if the UDK allowed freemium games without a paid license.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ They make it pretty clear in their faq#business&legal. Microtransactions count. So does having ads on a site that lets you download a free game (don't expect to find a loophole). \$\endgroup\$ – Seth Battin Apr 28 '13 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SethBattin Now you make me look lazy for not digging up that link ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – aaaaaaaaaaaa Apr 29 '13 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nah, I spent a fair bit of time searching through the site. The faq was not the place I expected to find it. I briefly considered the 2GB UDK download, to see if the terms were in there. I just wanted to know the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Seth Battin Apr 29 '13 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @eBusiness Cheer up. You all make me look lazy for not looking up this stuff. But as I've stated as my very first sentence, I'm new to all this. ;) Wasn't sure whether to accept your answer as "the" answer. So I compared the scores of you two and went with Seth. Sorry? ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Kiruse Apr 29 '13 at 16:01

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