StudioGPU has made its $3,999 GPU-accelerated render engine MachStudio Pro 2 available for free.
According to the StudioGPU website, the download is the full version of the software. There is no mention of licence restrictions, and in fact, the site doesn’t even ask users to register their personal details.
A sense of déjà vu?
Readers who have followed the GPU rendering market for a few years may recall that this is the same trajectory followed by Nvidia’s ill-fated Gelato Pro. Initially sold for $1,500, the software was made available for free in 2008, when Nvidia ended active development.
Unlike Nvidia, StudioGPU has not announced that it is discontinuing development of the product.
According to a discreet pop-up on the download page: “We firmly believe that MachStudio Pro is a revolutionary piece of software that will completely transform the way that you work in 3D by saving you both time and money. Based on our confidence in this notion, we think we can create a viable business model from generating revenue from Support, Training and Consulting Services. Please help us change the 3D production world for the better. Take a spin on MachStudio Pro today. You won’t be sorry.”
As yet, we don’t know what those support services might consist of: at time of writing, the StudioGPU website does not advertise a commercial training or maintenance programme. We’ll update when we have more information on this, or on what happens to anyone who purchased MachStudio Pro 2 at full price.
But for anyone not already using the software: that’s a hell of a lot of renderer to get for free.
Updated 31 May: We spoke to StudioGPU VP of marketing Andrew Baum, who told us that the decision had been made to offer MachStudio Pro 2 for free before any sales had been made.
“We never offered MachStudio Pro 2 for sale,” he said. “We decided to make the long overdue release of the product available free right out of the gate.”
The company is now offering per-incident support for the software, among other technical services, with prices starting at $150.
Asked whether, given the product’s unusual business model, users can be guaranteed that the software will be supported for the duration of a commercial production, Baum commented:
“Just like pretty much any software available in the world today, there is never a guarantee of this nature. Especially when it is provided free of charge.”
Updated 18 October: as far as we can see, StudioGPU has now closed. The company’s website has been offline for over two weeks. However, you can still download MachStudio Pro 2 from CNET.