New York-based startup Sketchfab has been acquired by Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite and Unreal Engine. Sketchfab is building a platform to upload, download, view, share, sell and buy 3D assets. Essentially, it is the leading repository for 3D files on the web.
Epic Games is not disclosing the terms of the deal. Sketchfab will still operate as a separate brand and offering. Epic Games also says that all integrations with third-party tools will be available, including Unity.
The deal makes a lot of sense because Epic Games is developing — and acquiring — some of its most popular construction tools. Unreal Engine has been one of the most popular video game engines over the past few decades.
Recently, the Unreal Engine has been used for a variety of use cases beyond video games, such as special effects, 3D exploration of virtual worlds, mixed reality projects and more.
But an engine without assets is pretty much useless. So manufacturers either design their own 2D and 3D properties, outsource the process or buy assets directly. This created an entire ecosystem of assets and creators.
Epic Games has its own Unreal Engine market, but Sketchfab has been working on creating a definitive 3D market for many years with three important pillars – technology, accessibility and collaboration.
On the technical front, Sketchfab lets you view 3D models on any platform. Sketchfab Viewer works with all major browsers on both desktop and mobile—you can see an example on Sketchfab. It also works with VR headsets. You can upload a 3D model from your favorite 3D modeling app, such as Blender, 3ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4D and Substance Painter.
Sketchfab can convert any format to the glTF and USDZ file formats. Those formats work particularly well on Android and iOS.
When it comes to accessibility, 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 that creators could buy and sell assets directly on the platform.
Finally, Sketchfab launched an interesting feature for companies that work with 3D models all the time – Sketchfab for Teams. It is a software as a service that lets you share a Sketchfab account with the rest of the team. Essentially, it acts like a shared Google Drive folder – but for 3D models.
With today’s acquisition, Epic Games is making some immediate changes. Like the Epic Games Store starting today, store fees have been reduced from 30% to 12%. The company also reduced the commission on ArtStation soon after it acquired ArtStation.
For Sketchfab users to pay a monthly subscription fee, everything is a little cheaper now. All the features in the Plus plan are now available for free, all the features in the Pro plan are available to Plus customers, etc.
“We created Sketchfab with a mission to empower a new era of creativity and enable creators to showcase their work online and make 3D content accessible,” Alban Denoyl, Sketchfab co-founder and CEO, said in the announcement. “Joining Epic will enable us to accelerate the growth of SketchFab and our powerful online toolset, while providing an even greater experience for all creators. We need to work with Epic to build the Metaverse and encourage creators to share their work.” Proud to be able to take this further.”
With the acquisition of ArtStation and Capturing Reality, Epic Games is on an acquisition spree. It is clear that the company wants to build an end-to-end developer suite for the gaming industry.