Unreal is a series of first-person shooter video games developed by Epic Games. The series is also known for its exhibition of the Unreal Engine that powers the games and is available for other developers to license. As a result of Epic's focus on the engine technology, much of the creative workload such as map design has traditionally been outsourced to other studios, namely Digital Extremes. Legend Entertainment was brought in for the first game's expansion pack and its sequel, Unreal II. For the latest installment, however, Epic completed all design work in-house.
Publishing rights for the series have changed hands several times. GT Interactive was the original publisher, and a series of acquisitions and corporate restructurings eventually led to Infogrames and then Atari inheriting the relationship. However, during the production of Unreal Tournament 2004 there was a financial dispute between Epic and Atari, culminating in the gold master being held hostage in exchange for milestone and royalty payments. After dealing with that episode, Epic elected to take the publishing rights elsewhere for future titles and eventually settled on a deal with Midway Games.