Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories that will focus on the latest developments in the Triangle’s video game industry. Reports will be written by WRALTechWire Insider columnist John Gauidosi.

CARY, N.C. – While Epic Games doesn’t have any titles for the record-setting launches of Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles, the award-winning studio for both games and game engine technology is working on new unannounced games for “next gen.” But thanks to its Unreal Engine 4 technology, Epic Games will have a hand in multiple games in development from other publishers for both consoles.

In fact, Zombie Studios’ Blacklight: Retribution, a free-to-play shooter, is the first Unreal Engine 3-powered game for next gen. It’s a PS4 launch title. Zombie has worked with Epic to exploit the older game engine and make it relevant for next gen devices. Zombie also has a PS4 Unreal Engine 4 game, Daylight, shipping in early 2014 from Atlus.

With Sony and Microsoft poised to sell 3 million next gen consoles each by year’s end, the focus of the games industry is on the next 10 years of interactive entertainment.

Mark Rein, co-founder and vice president of Epic Games, talks about the future of video games in this exclusive interview.

  • What opportunities are next generation consoles opening up for independent developers?

Clearly Microsoft and Sony are embracing the idea of self-publishing, and these are platforms that reach a large number of exuberant gamers that will spend money on games. You don’t get an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4 if you’re not planning to buy games. It’s exciting that you get to reach the players who are looking for great content and you get to publish it yourself. The world is your oyster in these situations.

But those aren’t the only platforms; there’s still iOS, Android, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Steam. It’s just a good time to be an independent developer provided you have the wherewithal to make a great product and somehow get people to know about it. I think Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will work very hard to get the really best indie games noticed, but I think on the other platforms it’s up to you to figure out how to market the games.

  • On the “AAA” side – games developed for major platforms – what are you seeing from the rise of cost and manpower to create games for next generation?

I’m sure it will be more expensive as you get into the ability to do so much more. The walls are certainly pushed out a lot thanks having so much more memory and having faster storage and things like that. I’m sure we’ll see costs go up, but hopefully we’ll see engagement go up and the ability to try different business models like day-and-date digital. Fingers crossed, I hope it will be good for the people who make the effort.

  • What role do you see Unreal Engine 4 playing in allowing smaller teams to create AAA games?

Unreal Engine 4 is supremely scalable. That’s good news for developers of all sizes. You can make anything from a tiny side-scroller up to the biggest AAA game in the business.

What’s really exciting for the smaller developers is the tools are that much better. Everything is that much more focused on getting the designer’s vision into gamers’ hands. We really worked hard at re-envisioning how the editor works, how Blueprints work, and making the tools much easier to use out of the box. The tools are easier to learn and they’re more powerful. You’re doing more with less in terms of your time.

  • When it comes to next gen, outside of the visual fidelity what do you feel will differentiate the next gen experience from anything we’ve seen in the past?

That’s really a question to ask a game designer. What would you do if you had a lot more memory? You know what would you do if you had a lot more CPU? What would you do if you had a lot more GPU? Not everything we do on the GPU is graphics. We do physics, collision detection and some animation-related things on GPU. We just have a lot more power.

  • There’s been so much focus on next gen consoles, but what are your thoughts on the role the PC, which is a next gen device, playing in the ecosystem moving forward?

PCs continue to be built from strength to strength in terms of gaming. We’ve seen the rise of amazing games like World of Tanks and League of Legends and they’re doing really, really well. There’s just a lot you can do there.

And you’re right, the PC is as next gen as anything else. It’s as next gen as you want it to be in terms of what you’re willing to spend on it. I don’t see that going away either.

When I’m sitting in my den or my office and I want to have that great PC experience, it’s there for me. Furthermore, there are a lot of games that are still designed for that PC keyboard and mouse experience that you just don’t have on a console or on a tablet.

  • What’s it like with your PC roots in game development for the PC with your Fortnite title?

Remember, all the titles we create are developed on the PC, so nothing’s really changed in all the time we’ve been trying different platforms. It doesn’t really feel any different. It feels as good as it always has.

 [EPIC ARCHIVE: Check out more than a decade of Epic stories as reported in WRALTechWire.]