For DMC we ended using all sort of tricks in shaders, and never a flipbook. Apart from the long iteration process we where a bit scared of texture memory consumptions. At the end, it was the case of loads of different bespoke materials. It all depends on the kind of effects needed. DMC had loads of "magical" effects for game play. And few less environment or cutscene effects. For the "magical" stuff, maybe its better to quickly iterate in a complex shader network in unreal, than trying to get something from maya fluids.
Now, we are doing a bit of research on simulations, because we have found that a mixed approach, with flip books and interesting shaders, can get to some really nice results. Maya fluids, Houdini, even Blender, can be quite useful. But you need to practice a lot, for getting that specific behaviour in a simulation.