New York-based startup Sketchfab has been acquired by Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite and Unreal Engine. Sketchfab has built a platform for uploading, uploading, viewing, sharing, selling and buying 3D assets. It is essentially the main repository of 3D files on the web.
Epic Games is not disclosing the terms of the agreement. Sketchfab will always operate as a separate brand and offering. Epic Games also says that all integrations with third-party tools will remain available, including with Unity.
The deal makes a lot of sense because Epic Games has developed – and acquired – some of the most popular creative tools. Unreal Engine has been one of the most popular video game engines of the past two decades.
More recently, Unreal Engine has been used for different use cases beyond video games, such as special effects, 3D explorations of virtual worlds, mixed reality projects and more.
But an engine without trumps is pretty useless. That’s why creators design their own 2D and 3D assets, outsource this process, or buy assets directly. It has led to the creation of a whole ecosystem of assets and creators.
Epic Games has its own Unreal Engine Marketplace, but Sketchfab has been working on creating the definitive 3D Marketplace for many years with three important pillars – technology, reach, and collaboration.
Technologically, Sketchfab allows you to view 3D models on any platform. Sketchfab Viewer works with all major desktop and mobile browsers – you can see an example on Sketchfab. It also works with VR headsets. You can download 3D models from your favorite 3D modeling app, such as Blender, 3ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4D, and Substance Painter.
Sketchfab can also convert any format to glTF and USDZ file formats. These formats work particularly well on Android and iOS.
When it comes to reach, Sketchfab has grown tremendously over the years. In 2018, the company shared some metrics – 1 billion views, 2 million members, and 3 million 3D models. Around the same time, the company launched a store so creators could buy and sell assets directly on the platform.
Finally, Sketchfab launched a cool feature for companies that work with 3D models all the time: Sketchfab for Teams. It’s a software as a service game that lets you share a Sketchfab account with the rest of the team. Essentially, it works a lot like a Google Drive shared folder, but for 3D models.
With today’s acquisition, Epic Games is making immediate changes. Starting today, store fees have been reduced from 30% to 12%, just like on the Epic Games Store. The company also reduced commissions on ArtStation immediately after acquiring ArtStation.
As for Sketchfab users paying a monthly subscription, everything is now a little cheaper. All the features of the Plus plan are now available for free, all the features of the Pro plan are available for Plus subscribers, etc.
“We built Sketchfab with the mission of enabling a new era of creativity and providing a service for creators to showcase their work online and make 3D content accessible,” said Sketchfab co-founder and CEO Alban Denoyel, in the ad. “Joining Epic will allow us to accelerate the development of Sketchfab and our powerful online toolset, while providing an even better experience for creators. We’re proud to work alongside Epic to build the metaverse and empower creators to take their work even further. “
With the acquisitions of ArtStation and Capturing Reality, Epic Games has seen a wave of acquisitions. It’s clear the company wants to build an end-to-end developer suite for the gaming industry.