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Developer(s)Criterion Software
Written inC++
Operating systemWindows, Mac OS X, GameCube, Wii, Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 2, PS3, PS4, PlayStation Portable, iOS, Android
LicenseProprietary (archived)

RenderWare is a video game engine developed by British game developer Criterion Software.


Released in 1993,[1] RenderWare is a 3D API and graphics rendering engine used in video games, Active Worlds, and some VRML browsers. RenderWare was developed by Criterion Software Limited, then a subsidiary of Canon. It originated in the era of software rendering on CPUs prior to the appearance of GPUs, competing with other libraries such as Argonaut Games's BRender and RenderMorphics' Reality Lab (the latter was acquired by Microsoft and became Direct3D). Renderware 4 was revealed at GDC 2004.[2]

It was licensed over 200 times. The scope went towards an integrated middleware with low level APIs for rendering, physics, audio, AI all of which are extensible through plug-ins which also serve the official high-level API. The aim was to reduce the learning curve by also including service and support for licensees. With RenderWare Studio an integrated development environment including a debugger was included.[3] RenderWare themselves claimed a 70% marketshare across studios that choose an external engine in 2003.[4]

RenderWare's principal commercial importance was in providing an off-the-shelf solution to the difficulties of PS2 graphics programming. As such, the engine was often described as "Sony's DirectX" during this era which was a reference to its surrounding framework and toolchain middleware.[clarification needed] Prior to version 2, an external programming or scripting language was required to take advantage of RenderWare. RenderWare 2, on the other hand, has its own internal scripting language: RWX (RenderWare script). However, in RenderWare 3 RWX support was removed. This next iteration focused on a binary model file format. As with the previous version increment, Criterion removed support for RenderWare 3's formats in RenderWare 4.

RenderWare is cross-platform: it runs on Windows as well as Apple Mac OS X-based applications and many video game consoles such as GameCube, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Portable.[citation needed] RenderWare is no longer available for purchase, although Electronic Arts still honors old contracts, meaning that external developers who licensed the technology before the Criterion acquisition may still use the software. What was RenderWare 4 has dissolved into the rest of EA internal tech.[citation needed] During a 2007 Gamasutra interview, Bing Gordon, EA CCO, has stated that RenderWare did not perform well enough for next-gen hardware, graphics wise, and that RenderWare did not stand up to competition, such as Unreal Engine from Epic Games. He has also stated that the RenderWare team is "mostly a dev house".[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NG Alphas: Criterion Studios" (PDF). Next Generation. No. 22. Imagine Media. October 1996. pp. 130–4. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  2. ^ Fahey, Rob (23 March 2004). "GDC: Criterion reveals next-generation Renderware products". Archived from the original on 2022-03-26. Retrieved 2022-03-26.
  3. ^ Guilbert, Oskar (2004). "RenderWare: Speed up the 3D Application Production Pipeline". Eurographics 2004 - Tutorials. Eurographics. doi:10.2312/EGT.20041033. ISSN 1017-4656.
  4. ^ Callaham, John (23 October 2002). "RenderWare Interview". HomeLan Fed. Archived from the original on 8 December 2003.
  5. ^ Sheffield, Brandon (23 May 2007). "Bing There, Done That: EA's CCO Talks... Everything". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 2021-08-24. Retrieved 2022-03-26.

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