Epic Games Vice President Mark Rein says the first games designed using Unreal Engine 4, the next-gen successor to the company's widely-adopted design tools, will be released by the end of next year.

"For sure something next year, I just don’t know exactly when,” Rein told Joystiq. ”Until we’re really clear on when the game is going to be finished, when the partner wants to put in the sand and market it, we don’t really have those kind of dates.”

Unreal Engine 3, the current version of Epic's design tools, have been used by AAA studios to design countless AAA games in the last five years or so. If a studio isn't building a system from the ground up or using a proprietary system of their own, there's a good chance the developers used the Unreal engine.

Epic showed investors a demo reel of the new Engine during GDC earlier this year. Apparently it blew everyone's minds.

In an interview with Joystiq, Rein said Epic plans to be among the first studios to release a game using Unreal 4, though they didn't speculate on what those games might be, or what platforms they would be released on.

"It’s certainly important for us to have our flagship game. That’s the game for which we develop the engine. Gears of War was the game for which Unreal Engine 3 was developed, and so shipping that has a huge significance for licensees and for us. I think, for Unreal Engine 4, there’ll certainly be a couple of games.”

Does that mean Microsoft and Sony's new platforms, "Durango" and "Orbis", will be released by the end of 2013 as well? If not, Epic's first Unreal 4 venture would likely be a PC-only affair, as the Wii U's capacity to run Unreal 4 is still questionable. Making PC games hasn't been Epic's style for a pretty long time now, so that doesn't seem likely.

[From Joystiq via Gamesradar]