Today’s “State of Unreal” GDC opening session from Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney and CTO Kim Libreri revealed Unreal Engine’s growth to 7.5 million licensees and new technology advancements, plus Epic MegaGrants, Epic Online Services, and Epic Games store announcements.
“Our success is inextricably linked to developer success, and that ethos guides everything we do,” said Sweeney. “From our free Online Services and Epic MegaGrants to new Unreal Engine features, our goal is to help developers, and to equip them to give players even better experiences.”

Visit Epic throughout GDC at Moscone South 349 for Unreal Engine tools demonstrations and learning sessions, and South 327 for playable games, giveaways, career networking, and free food and beer. Epic’s news highlights at GDC include:

Ray tracing and photorealism in Unreal Engine
Available now in preview with the full release coming within two weeks, Unreal Engine 4.22 is the fastest version of UE4 ever, with drastically reduced compile times and many optimizations and performance upgrades. UE 4.22 ships with highly anticipated features including ray tracing, new Live++ hot reload for live coding, multi-user collaboration in Unreal Editor, Niagara VFX enhancements, Microsoft HoloLens streaming support (with full HoloLens 2 support coming in May), and support for Google’s new Stadia game streaming platform.

Two real-time demonstrations shown during today’s “State of Unreal” showcase stunning new visuals that can be achieved with Unreal Engine:
First, Troll, a real-time short from Goodbye Kansas and Deep Forest Films, features a scene starring a digital princess, fairies and an enchanted crown to demonstrate how ray tracing can create cinematic-quality lighting with complex soft shadows and reflections. Troll was created entirely with Unreal Engine 4.22, leveraging the powerful new ray tracing features that will forever change how digital content is created.
Second, Quixel’s Rebirth short was created by a team of just three artists and highlights use of the studio’s state-of-the-art photogrammetry techniques, extensive asset library, and world-class artistry to demonstrate new levels of photorealistic beauty in Unreal Engine. The movie is lit, composed, edited, and rendered entirely in Unreal Engine 4.21, with no custom plugins or code. 
EpicMegaGrants_Pic1.jpg
Epic MegaGrants
Epic Games has launched Epic MegaGrants, committing $100,000,000 to assist game developers, media and entertainment creators, enterprise professionals, students, educators, and tools developers doing outstanding work with Unreal Engine or enhancing open-source capabilities for the 3D graphics community. Epic MegaGrants marks an evolution from Epic’s Unreal Dev Grants program, a $5,000,000 fund initially launched in 2015, which awarded its final grants earlier this week.  
FEED_THUMB_EpicOnlineServices.jpg
Epic Online Services
Epic Online Services are free offerings that will make it easier and faster for developers to successfully launch, operate and scale high-quality games. Built from Epic’s experience with Fortnite, which has nearly 250 million players, Epic Online Services provides a single SDK that works across any platform, game engine, and store to help developers give their players a unified, cross-platform social experience. In addition to game analytics and the ticketing system, the growing library of tools includes sentiment analysis, cloud storage, voice communications, and matchmaking. To access the SDK now, visit dev.epicgames.com/services.
Epic Games store
The Epic Games store launched in December 2018 with the goal of achieving a more open, fair, and profitable platform for developers and publishers, disrupting the industry by offering an 88% revenue share, a great free game every two weeks, and major exclusives. Today Epic announced that the store has grown to 85,000,000 PC players, with its Support-A-Creator program surpassing more than 55,000 creators. Epic also revealed nearly two dozen games coming to the store, along with store performance metrics.

Epic Games is also partnering with Humble Bundle to enable developers to sell their Epic Games store titles on the Humble Store, including Epic store exclusives. Epic will receive no revenue share from the sale of those games purchased through the Humble Store. The partnership will launch with keys redeemable on the Epic Games store, and soon Epic will enable players to link their Epic and Humble accounts for direct purchasing. 
Coming Soon to Unreal Engine:
Revealed onstage during the “State of Unreal,” Chaos is Unreal Engine’s new high-performance physics and destruction system coming in early access to Unreal Engine 4.23. The real-time tech demo is set within the world of Robo Recall (watch the full play through here). With Chaos, users can achieve cinematic-quality visuals in real time in scenes with massive-scale levels of destruction, with unprecedented artist control over content creation. In addition to the initial feature set, Epic will release demo content for Chaos physics and destruction within the 4.23 window.

UPDATE

You can now watch the following GDC 2019 presentations on our YouTube channel:

YERBA BUENA TECH TALKS
Ray Tracing in Unreal Engine 4.22
Unreal Engine’s Audio Rendering: Retrospectives and Case Study Analysis
Refactoring the Mesh Drawing Pipeline for Unreal Engine 4.22

UNREAL ENGINE LEARNING THEATER TALKS
A Hands-on Look at Using Ray Tracing in Games with UE 4.22
Order from Chaos - Destruction in UE4
Building Effects with Niagara and Blueprint
Enhancing Animation with Control Rig
Learning to Make Games with UE4 and Action RPG