We already know that Epic's been hard at work on the Unreal Engine 4 for years—after all, Unreal Engine 3 is the motor behind tons of this generation's top games. Now, in an interview with Kotaku, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney's revealed that around 40 people at the developer are currently hard at work on the new engine.

"Sweeney shifted to more of a planning and research role for the newer engines, as he has in recent years for the forthcoming Unreal Engine 4," writes Kotaku. "He's already backed off on that one, keeping a high-level eye on it while about 40 people at Epic build it as, Epic and Sweeney hope, the graphical standard of gaming's next generation."

Sweeney told IGN in September that the new engine wouldn't "see the light of day until probably around 2014," and a month later Epic President Mike Capps told Develop of Unreal Engine 4 on the next generation of consoles, "We need to be there day one or very early. That's my primary focus." But it was unknown exactly how many of Epic's 153 employees (sign into LinkedIn to see that figure) were working on the engine, until now.

With over a quarter of their workforce making sure Unreal Engine 4 lives up to expectations, could the next generation of consoles actually be right around the corner? Let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook.