Open Source in the Video Game Industry

As far as I can tell, it’s almost non-existent. I’m a developer and gamer, but not a game developer (at least not a very good one). With the rising cost of game development, it seems like it would be beneficial to everyone (publishers, developers, consumers, etc.) if the developers were making meaningful contributions to the open source community.

What got me thinking about this was Apple finally throwing their hat into the ring recently when they open sourced Swift, and Microsoft earlier this year publishing the source for .NET. Now most (if not all) of the biggest technology companies are contributing in some meaningful way to open source. Below are some other examples:

It’s good that most of the major engines are “freely” licensed to anyone who wants to give them a try. Watching the most recent GT Time, they discussed how happy they were that FF7 was using UE4 and Kojima was considering an established engine for his new studio. This clearly speeds up development time and spreads more re-usable knowledge and experience throughout the industry. I still believe open source would be more ideal because you could accept code contributions from the community.

Update: After writing this I realized that UE actually was open sourced. I originally thought the source was only available with a specific tier of license. This is pretty great and I wish more companies in the industry would follow suit. I also found a petition attempting to convince Ubisoft to open source the UbiArt Framework. Apparently this was supposed to happen a few years ago but, unless I’m mistaken, has yet to happen.

I’m just wondering what other’s opinions on this are or if you have any other information out there contrary to what I said. I do realize that when dealing with games there is a higher degree of artistic assets involved in the creation process, but I still think there’s much to be gained from a more open approach. It seems like there have been so many technological hurdles causing issues in the industry since the beginning of this generation. Maybe this could be resolved if the industry took a more open approach, not just contributing to open source but also getting involved in the community.

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