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Epic: "we will never be a publisher"

Will make games "for the foreseeable".

Epic Games, creator of the Gears of War series and the Unreal Engine, will never become a publisher, despite some believing it is the next natural step for the company.

Why? Because it doesn't want the hassle of being responsible for game developers making money.

"We're never going to be a publisher, which in some respects you would think is the natural next step for somebody like ourselves, who have become so large and have touched so many developers," European territory manager Mike Gamble told Eurogamer at the Unreal University event in London today.

"We could say, now we're a publisher, all of your stuff you make through Unreal comes through us. But that's a slippery, horrible slope."

"We don't want that responsibility," senior technical artist and level designer Alan Willard added. "That's a massive administration overhead we just don't want to take on.

"We're very happy to help our partners with technology and advice and with their development. But we don't want to be responsible for them making money and their products making it to market."

Epic Games' rise has been meteoric. What was once Epic MegaGames and the developer of fast-paced PC first-person shooter Unreal is now one of the most influential game companies in the industry.

Unreal Engine can be seen in hundreds of games made today, and Epic's licensing business is now a hugely profitable, pervasive one.

This, Willard said, is why it is no longer appropriate to describe Epic as a video game developer.

"We've gone from a game development studio to a development studio," he explained. "Instead of just focusing on games we now have the larger support for indie developers with [Unreal Development Kit] UDK, all the way up to triple-A, EA, LucasArts, whoever, all the way down to people just playing around at home who might put together an iOS App and sell it online."

Some have accused Epic of focusing more on Unreal Engine than game development, but Willard promised gamers the company will continue to create video games going forward.

"At the same time we're still developing our internal titles and we'll be doing that for the foreseeable future," he said. "We're certainly not moving away from game development. We just have a very vibrant engine development business running parallel with that.

"[Game development is] the core. It all spins off of us making our games. Everybody at Epic works on the game titles you see that we ship. But then we're also all involved in planning the next feature set for the engine, we're involved in planning the next game we're going to work on. There's a lot of internal involvement in all of the businesses we touch."

"We're something different, aren't we?" Gamble concluded. "We're an evolution of a studio, but quite what that is, who knows?"

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