Unreal Engine 4 "probably around 2014"

Epic founder researching next-gen consoles.

The next version of video game engine Unreal will probably launch in 2014, Epic has said.

Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney told IGN he spends 60 per cent of his time researching Epic's next generation engine: Unreal Engine 4, and the next generation of consoles.

"This is technology that won't see the light of day until probably around 2014," he said, "but focusing on that horizon enables me to do some really cool things that just aren't practical today, but soon will be.

"Some of our most productive work in the industry was on the first Unreal engine back in 1996, when I wrote a software renderer with a bunch of new features that hadn't been seen before.

"I feel like that's what I'm doing now on Unreal Engine 4 in exploring areas of the technology nobody else is really yet contemplating because they're still a few years away from practicality. But I see a huge amount of potential there and so it's very, very fun work."

A 2014 release for Unreal Engine 4 suggests a 2014 release for the next generation of consoles, given it is unlikely Epic would release it for use on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games.

In July CryEngine maker Crytek told Eurogamer video game graphics achieved using the DirectX 11 standard provide a solid indication of the visual power of the next Xbox and PlayStation.

And earlier this year Epic released the Samaritan tech demo - a real-time video designed to provide a glimpse into what the next generation of consoles will be capable of.

Epic Games' Next Gen Samaritan Demo

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