Valve finally announces next-gen Source 2 engine, and it's free too

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After months and months—or more properly, years and years—of speculation, Valve has officially announced Source 2 Engine, the second iteration of the engine that’s powered all the studio’s games since 2004’s Counter-Strike: Source and Half-Life 2. And, in a move that’s sounding pretty familiar after the past few days, Source 2 is free to use.

“We will be making Source 2 available for free to content developers. This combined with recent announcements by Epic and Unity will help continue the PC’s dominance as the premiere content authoring platform,” said Valve’s Jay Stelly in a prepared statement.

“Given how important user generated content is becoming, Source 2 is designed not for just the professional developer, but enabling gamers themselves to participate in the creation and development of their favorite games,” he continued.

And to utterly nobody’s surprise, Valve will also release a Vulkan-compatible version of Source 2 in its continual efforts to divest itself of Windows. Vulkan is the new, more powerful OpenGL successor designed to compete with Microsoft’s DirectX 12.

The official announcement brings to a close an extended period of leaks, culminating in shots of a remastered Left 4 Dead level that came out last year.

Now, “Source 2” is a bit of a silly designation considering Source in 2015 looks quite a bit different than Source did in 2004. The engine has been constantly iterated on for the past decade, so marking this as the clean “break” moment seems a bit arbitrary. Consider that Portal 2 and Half-Life 2 were done using the same engine—Valve did a ton of behind the scenes work on Source that most companies would’ve marked with a new version number already.

But regardless, it’s exciting news for developers at GDC 2015. Between this, the announcement of Vulkan, and both Unreal and Unity going free, this has been a heck of a show already—and the main conference isn’t even officially open until tomorrow morning.

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