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First launched in 1993, 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, which used to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon but is now owned by Electronic Arts. It originated in the era of software rendering on CPUs prior to the appearance of GPUs, competing with other libraries such as Argonaut's BRender and RenderMorphics' Reality Lab (the latter was acquired by Microsoft and became Direct3D).
RenderWare's principal commercial importance was in providing an off-the-shelf solution to the difficulties of PS2 graphics programming. It was almost describable as "Sony's DirectX" during this era—although the name refers to 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 Nintendo GameCube, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Portable. RenderWare is no longer available for purchase, although EA 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. Bing Gordon, an EA executive, 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" (indicating that EA is reluctant still to use RenderWare).