Fueling The Metaverse: Epic Games Buys Biggest 3D Model Platform Sketchfab

Epic Games, maker of Fortnite and vocal opponent to Apple’s App Store practices, has acquired SketchFab, possibly the most essential 3D content site in the world.

The stated goal?

The creation of an open, interconnected metaverse.

Epic today announced that Sketchfab and Epic would be able to combine forces to make 3D AR and VR content more easily and grow the creator community, both of which are essential to an open, interconnected Metaverse.

This is an important augmented reality, 3D content, and virtual reality move at a moment when gaming and productivity increasingly shift to three-dimensional spaces. It includes both games on two-dimensional screens and games and experiences enabled with virtual and augmented realities glasses or headsets. All these devices have a hunger for 3D objects that they can place in environments or gameplay. Sketchfab is the most popular repository and marketplace for AR/VR content.

Marc Petit, Unreal Engine VP and General Manager, stated that Sketchfab had done an outstanding job opening up 3D content to the web. He also said that anyone could edit and post content online. “The demand for web-based 3D solutions will increase as real-time technology is adopted more frequently. We are delighted to partner with Sketchfab to empower even further creators.

Sketchfab is a platform where 3D content creators can upload scans of natural objects and then sell them. Alban Denoyel (founder and CEO) told me that some scan sellers make more than $1,000 per month.

One of the commissioned 3D scanners for all new Tesla models was hired by Tesla.

The announcement claims that the site contains over 4 million 3D assets. Sketchfab’s website states that it has more than 5 million users and 8 million monthly visitors.

Epic’s first move?

Sketchfab will make the lowest-paid tier accessible, and all paid users can upgrade to higher-capability accounts. Sketchfab’s marketplace fee was lowered to 12% to help creators get more out of their art and designs.

Epic says that Sketchfab will continue operating in an open and accessible manner with all users even though Epic now owns it.

The company stated that it would continue to make Sketchfab’s technology available for integration and ensure its offerings are compatible with all platforms and tools. This includes supporting Unity and all other engines. Sketchfab will remain an independent service brand while collaborating closely with the Unreal Engine group.”

Epic’s Unreal Engine is now in the unique position of being the first to access 3D models to its customers. This means that clients can easily integrate millions of objects into their environments and games, making them more prosperous, more accurate, and more diverse. It is essential to realize that AR and VR enablement will become more common as we work towards a metaverse that includes more of our play, social, and work activities.

3DExport is a competitor to Sketchfab. TurboSquid and Hum3D are also competitors to Sketchfab.

It will be interesting for Epic to see if Unity, a hugely popular gaming engine, competes with Epic’s Unreal Engine or if platform owners such as Google or Apple start to make defensive acquisitions.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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