How to package Unreal Engine 5 Projects for Distribution

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UE5 has changed some of the menu options that let us package a project for distribution. In UE4 we could find these options under the File Menu, but they’re gone. We now have a brand new entry under the Platforms button at the top.

Under Binary Configuration we can now conveniently pick shipping, debug or development without having to hunt inside the Editor Settings, or if we want pick the top option to honour whatever is set there. That’s nice!

Project Settings

Zak Parrish recommends two options that haven’t changed from their locations in Unreal Engine 4:

  • create compressed cooked packages
  • list of maps included with your project

These settings ensure that your export is somewhat compressed and smaller in file size. Only assets that are referenced in your included maps will be exported, which is super handy when you want to use only a small particle effect from that 3GB Paragon asset pack.

Note that these lists are long, I find it’s easy to find what you need by searching.

Editor Settings

To avoid errors related to long paths, head over to Editor Settings and enable support for them. By default, paths longer than 260 characters can cause issues, and we all know how quickly that limit can be reached with folders within folders.

Missing Windows SDK Warning

On Windows systems without development environments installed, the following error may occur:

The SDK for Windows is not installed properly, which is needed to generate data. Check the SDK section of the Launch On menu in the main toolbar to update SDK.

There is of course no such menu in Unreal Engine 5, nor is there a helpful link to fix the problem. Turns out that if Visual Studio is installed, the SDK comes as part of the installation, but on systems without it, this error comes up.

The solution is to either install Visual Studio Community Edition, or just the Windows SDK. It can be found as a stand-alone installer here:

Dangit, it doesn’t work! What can I do?

While the above will help you build a simple game you’ve made and share it with friends, there are several other thousand settings that can be adjusted, including build targets. Especially those complex demo projects you get from EPIC, they have a knack of just not packaging properly. And even if they do, the packaged app might crash or otherwise not run properly.

Here’s what I would do to make sure the process is working in principle:

  • build a vanilla template project, like the Third Person or First Person demos, either of which should be packagable without errors or warnings
  • if that doesn’t work, try building with a different version of Unreal Engine or verify your installation (in your Library, next to the launch button, click the little arrow)
  • check if any of the plugins or products you’re using requires additional configuration

If none of the above work, you’re out of luck as a casual 3D user non-developer. Sadly that’s where decades of C++ knowledge and that computer science degree would come in handy, neither of which I’ll ever have. So I guess what I’m saying is “if it works, it works – and if it doesn’t, you’ll need to speak to a professional”.

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