Despite showing off Unreal Engine 4 behind closed doors at GDC this month, Epic Games says its predecessor Unreal Engine 3 is "probably the way to go" for launch games on next-generation consoles.
Speaking to CVG in a frank and insightful interview at GDC, Epic's always well-spoken VP Mark Rein pointed to UE3's ability to power visuals such as those seen in the stunning Samaritan demo, which he said the engine is capable of doing "right now."
Rein said: "Samaritan is something you can do right now. In fact, Unreal Development Kit has all the features that powered Samaritan - every single graphics feature you can do. We could have shown another 30 videos.
"We have guys doing stuff on high end PCs that are just outside of the gaming space that are really pushing the envelope there. So that to us is pretty exciting - and you can do that now."
He added: "UE3 is already available for that sort of stuff. I think if you were going to do a launch title for a future console, UE3 would probably be the way to go. And likewise if you were going to do something cross-generational, like Mortal Kombat on PS Vita, Xbox, PS3 and potentially it could be on iPad... that's Unreal. Unreal spans the gamut, it goes from the smallest smartphone platforms up to the highest spec PC you can build and beyond."
On Unreal Engine 4 - which Epic hopes to publicly showcase later this year - Rein commented: "The UE4 stuff is very futuristic. UE3 is really the horse for this year."
Rein also said he can only see demand for middleware like Unreal Engine increasing in the future, but he also thinks we'll see a "broadening" of approaches taken by developers.
"Not everybody, but lots of people would like to take their games to more and more places," he explained. "It's not enough to just have a PC game anymore. Look at Dungeon Defenders; iOS, Android, Steam, Xbox Live, PSN, web, Mac... they sold a million units, and this is a small developer. So I think it's not just up or down, but it's also horizontal."
In the same interview, the Epic VP told us the developer's constantly pushing platform holders to make their future hardware 'bleeding edge'.