Epic Games gets closer to the metaverse with Sketchfab acquisition

Epic Games -- the maker of “Fortnite” -- acquires Sketchfab, a platform for buying and selling 3D objects for use in 3D media.


July 26, 2021

“Fortnite”… the start of something much bigger (Source: Epic Games)

You may know Epic Games as the creator of “Fortnite” (and the initiator of a juicy lawsuit against Apple’s App Store).

But the company has a much larger ambition: to create a metaverse — a shared virtual space that tightly integrates with the real world.

To reach this goal, the $29B game maker…

… just acquired Sketchfab — a 3D marketplace with 3m+ 3D objects — for an unknown sum, per TechCrunch.

Here’s why that’s cool:

  • Backstory: Epic Games created its Unreal Engine in 1998 for the 1st-person shooter, “Unreal.” Since then, the game engine’s been used in 3D games like Epic’s “Fortnite,” plus AR, VR, and virtual productions, including TV shows “The Mandalorian” and “Westworld.”
  • The business model: Game developers can access the Unreal Engine for free on GitHub, and Epic doesn’t charge royalties until creators hit $1m in revenue.
  • Enter Sketchfab: Sketchfab is a platform for buying and selling 3D objects for use in 3D media — like this chameleon or this European street scene.

In Epic’s vision…

… the metaverse has its own economy where creators can make money. Jesse Damiani, who covers emerging technologies for Freethink, tells The Hustle that Sketchfab’s acquisition is the “logical next step” in accelerating Epic’s plans.

“Sketchfab plays the role in 3D that YouTube played for video,” he says. “Google took a bet that user-generated video would drive the next wave of content and they were right. Epic is making a similar bet in the coming wave of 3D.”

Meanwhile, we’re looking at metaverse real estate. What do you think about this haunted house?

(Read more: Mark Zuckerberg tells The Verge that the metaverse is the next computing platform and the future of Facebook.)

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