Amazon is abandoning its Lumberyard 3D engine project before it even leaves beta, but in a way that means it could live on for years to come: it's donating it to the newly formed Open 3D Foundation for release and continued development under a permissive open-source licence.
Amazon launched Lumberyard in beta five years ago as a free-to-use 3D engine and development platform building on Crytek's CryEngine. The catch: signing up to build your game or software in Lumberyard came with an agreement that you would only use Amazon's cloud services, and nobody else's – bringing in a nice batch of recurring revenue for the company.
At least, that was the theory. Lumberyard saw stiff competition from Epic's Unreal Engine and the ever-popular Unity engine, among others, and within a year even Amazon was building projects on something else. The company even found itself competing with CryEngine, Crytek having spent the time since Lumberyard's launch making its own engine pay-what-you-want.
Now, despite a high-profile but questionable win in having troubled crowdfunding money-vacuum Star Citizen to switch to Lumberyard, Amazon's looking to concentrate on other things. Lumberyard, then, is no more – but lives on as the Open 3D Engine (O3DE), donated to the newly formed Open 3D Foundation under the stewardship of the Linux Foundation.
"We're proud to offer the 3D development community an unencumbered, AAA-capable, real-time 3D engine with one of the broadest arrays of integrated 3D authoring tools in the industry including a new photorealistic renderer, built for both modern gaming hardware and distributed cloud rendering," said Bill Vass, vice-president of engineering at Amazon Web Services, of the donation.
"We believe that creating a first-class, community-driven, open-source option will revolutionise real-time 3D development, as Linux did for operating systems and Apache did for the web."
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"The new Open 3D Foundation finally gives gaming and engine developers an opportunity to influence the direction of a major AAA-class 3D engine that is sustained for the long term by a worldwide open source community," added Chris Aniszczyk, chief technology officer at the Linux Foundation. "Furthermore, other industries such as automotive and healthcare can take advantage of embedding the engine and supporting the advancement of the engine to benefit all."
The Open 3D Engine is being made available under the user's choice between the permissive Apache 2.0 and MIT licences, meaning it's free to use, distribute, and modify with no royalties required – and no longer includes the restrictions tying Lumberyard to Amazon's cloud platform.
The Open 3D Foundation, meanwhile, exists to guide development of the O3DE project through a governing board and technical steering committee plus special interest groups (SIGs) concentrating on topics including the build and development pipeline, simulation engine, network and cloud, security, and testing.
Founding members, all of which the organisation claimed have contributed unspecified "funding and resources," include Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Huawei and its Futurewei affiliate, Intel, the International Game Developers Association, Niantic, Open Robotics, Red Hat, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Wargaming, among others. Not found in that list are AMD or Nvidia, who together represent the majority share of the discrete graphics card and games console processor markets.
"Any open-sourced piece of software that is AAA grade I think should be celebrated," engineering manager Shane Fagan commented. "Especially if it has the backing, financially and/or technically, from the companies who partnered with it."