Epic Games, creators of the hugely popular Fortnite game and vocal opponent of Apple’s App Store practices, has probably bought the world’s largest 3D content site, SketchFab.
The stated goal?
Building an open and interconnected metavers.
“By joining forces, Epic and Sketchfab will be able to make 3D, AR and VR content more accessible and grow the creators’ ecosystem, which is critical to an open and interconnected metavers, ”Epic said in an announcement today.
It’s a major augmented reality, with virtual reality and 3D content moving at a time when games and productivity are increasingly moving into three-dimensional spaces. This includes both games played on 0-dimensional screens, and games and experiences enabled in virtual and augmented reality glasses or headphones. They’re all hungry for 3D objects to place in environments and games, and Sketchfab is arguably the world’s largest repository and marketplace for virtual reality and virtual reality content.
“The Sketchfab team has done an incredible job opening up the world of 3D content to the web and allowing anyone to edit and publish content online,” Marc Petit, vice president and CEO of Unreal Engine, said in a statement. “As the adoption of real-time 3D technology continues to grow, the demand for web-based solutions will only increase. We look forward to working with the Sketchfab team to further empower creators. “
At Sketchfab, 3D content creators can upload and sell their scanned real-world objects. Some make more than $ 1,000 a month selling their scans, founder and CEO Alban Denoyel told me in December 2020.
One was even hired by Tesla and was responsible for 3D scanning of all new Tesla models.
The site has more than four million 3D assets, according to the ad, while the Sketchfab website says it has more than five million regular users and eight million monthly visitors.
One of Epic’s first moves?
Making the lower payment level of Sketchfab free and all paying users have more capacity accounts. And, reducing Sketchfab’s market rates to 12%, so creators can make more profit from their art and designs.
According to Epic, Sketchfab will continue to operate freely and openly with everyone, although it is now owned by Epic.
“In the future we will continue to enable all existing integrations with Sketchfab technology, in addition to ensuring that the company’s offerings are compatible with each of the different tools and platforms they support,” the company states. “This includes supporting Unity and other engines wholeheartedly. Sketchfab will continue to operate as an independent branding service while working closely with the Unreal Engine team. ”
However, this acquisition places Epic’s Unreal Engine in an enviable position of having first-hand access to 3D models for its customers, which means customers will be able to easily incorporate millions of objects into their games and environments and make them richer, real and more varied. As we get closer and closer to a metavers compatible with AR and VR that increasingly incorporates our leisure, social and work activity, it is becoming increasingly important.
Sketchfab’s competitors include 3DExport, TurboSquid, Hum3D and CGTrader.
It will be interesting to see if Epic’s competitors like Unity, which makes a massively popular game engine a rival to Epic’s Unreal Engine, or if platform owners like Apple or Google, lead to defensive acquisitions.