Epic Games says that Unreal Engine 4 is increasingly being adopted by major studios who have traditionally used their own tech as the next generation of hardware approaches.
Speaking to us in Cologne on the eve of Gamescom Mike Gamble, Epic's European territory manager, said that the increased scale of next-generation games had several companies thinking about using Epic's hugely popular engine over the proprietary tech they have used in the past.
"What we're seeing now quite rapidly as we approach new generations is that the guys who use proprietary tech are nearly all now thinking - they all have a decision to make," Gamble said. "Do they continue with their proprietary, or do they go with a proven engine?
"And we're seeing a lot of success in that space - a very surprising success, actually. It's nothing we can actually say yet but there's some people who you'd think, 'Oh my god, who would ever have thought they'd abandon their own technology?"
Gamble admits that there have always been clear advantages to developers using their own technology. Bespoke engines can be honed and tweaked to do exactly what you need them to do, and the resulting games will be visually distinct from games made using a widely available engine, as we've seen this generation with UE3.
"Of course, as you go through transitions, it gets more and more expensive to keep upgrading it," he explained. "And you've got to make sure that it's built and documented in such a way that when staff leave, it can continue, and that's a burden.
"At that point you may as well be thinking about buying, to be honest, because you get all of that as part of it."
All of which begs one obvious question: who could he be talking about? Bungie, perhaps, which under Activision's ownership is working on an ambitious project called Destiny and has already shown its willingness to licensing middleware by using Umbra Software's rendering optimisation tech? Maybe Avalanche, the Swedish developer of Just Cause 2 which is hard at work on an ambitious open-world game? Could Capcom, clearly aware of the ageing MT Framework's shortcomings, be looking to reduce development overheads by using a thirdparty engine?
We have no idea, of course, but Gamble's suggestion that some of the game industry's most technically capable companies are leaning towards Unreal Engine is an intriguing one. While it's been long accepted that a new generation of console hardware means increased development time and cost, many of UE4's improvements are aimed at making the game creation process more efficient. With that in mind, perhaps it's not so surprising that big names are prepared to make the switch to Epic's engine.