Transparency disclaimer: I am a super-backer on Xenko’s patreon.

For the past few months, I’ve been looking into learning new game engines for my future games, specifically in Virtual Reality. I wasn’t interested in neither Unity nor Unreal Engine, due to shady practices by their owning companies (Epic especially) and the percent taken from sales of games using said engine. MonoGame was unfortunately not mature enough to realistically develop for VR, with no out-of-the-box toolsets, I had to find another way.

Then, I re-discovered Xenko. A year before that, I learned about it’s existence, but thought it was too early to get into it to be usable.

A year later, I realize it has so much more potential than I originally expected.

This is what you get when you open the editor. Very reminiscent of Unity !

We’ve got a fully-featured editor with ECS system and scene management, custom shaders, fully asynchronous scripting, NuGet-based modular libraries… It’s also as easy to use for XNA/MonoGame veterans as with Unity connoisseurs.

But what sealed the deal for me was that VR works out-of-the-box, with Oculus and OpenVR support, and not too much effort needed to work with it. I was able to start working on a small demo which I’d like to talk about later in another blog post. (Not the one in the screenshot; That’s the sample VR game)

Plus, it’s got a community of dedicated people working on it, one of them named Phr00t who’s made a fork of the engine in order to develop his own VR games with many improvements that are currently in the process of being transferred to the official repository.

However, a lot of the development couldn’t be done without valuable contributions to it’s source code thanks to the many talented developers who helped make Xenko what it is today. And right now, Xenko is in need of more passionate contributors in order to make it fulfill it’s potential as the best free open-source VR-ready 3D game engine.

Why we need Xenko

With Unity and Unreal Engine taking the monopoly of professional game development, it’s great to have an alternative like Xenko show that you don’t have to abide to any extra fees imposed by the company who owns the engine you’ve chosen. It can effectively mitigate the “store tax” problem indie devs are victim of, with Steam already taking 30% of the profit from sales on their Steam platform. That tax doesn’t seem so bad, until you realize that if you go with Unity or Unreal, and your game/company does well, there are extra fees! No wonder so many people accept Epic Games’ offer when they tell them they’ll get 88% of profits from sales on their platform. In the end, you don’t get a lot of money !

However, going the Epic route, while a way to mitigate the price of your engine, sounds great, until they force you to only sell your game to their store. This means you will lose all the advantages the Steam platform offers, such as support forums, user-made content through the Steam Workshop and custom controller configurations to name a few. Lots of these features are what makes or breaks the accessibility of your game, so these are things to seriously consider.

Of course, this post isn’t about game stores, but it’s easy to forget both the cost of game engines and the store’s when planning how you sell your game.

If there’s anything you need to get from this little tangent, it’s that if you want to support a more open PC gaming ecosystem, and to minimize engine costs, choosing the Xenko game engine for your next game project is a great first step.