Epic Games acquires Quixel
Megascans assets will become available free to Unreal Engine users, while the cost of subscriptions for non-UE4 users has been reduced. Mixer and Bridge will be released free to everyone.
Quixel will retain its original name, and all of its staff – now over 100 employees, across six countries – have joined Epic Games. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Quixel: from Photoshop plugins to standalone scan data and material authoring tools
Founded in 2011 by former Starbreeze Studios artists Teddy Bergsman and Waqar Azim, Quixel was initially known for its Quixel Suite of Photoshop texture-creation plugins, DDO, NDO and 3DO.
In 2016, the firm launched Megascans, its online library of physically based scans of real-world materials and 3D objects, which was widely adopted by game developers and VFX studios.
By the end of the decade, as texture artists increasingly moved away from Photoshop to the procedural workflows pioneered by the Substance tools, Quixel had also shifted focus.
“[As Photoshop CS5] evolved into CC, it became difficult to improve and maintain a stable toolset, and frustrations from the community grew,” Bergsman wrote in a blog post earlier this year.
“Soon competition came along, and it became a downward spiral, nearly ending Quixel.”
“It was eye-opening to see artists moving on from Photoshop, which had been the staple of texturing for decades … with our final savings, we [created] a new home for NDO and DDO in a new standalone software.”
In 2018, Quixel released Mixer – then primarily a tool for blending and editing Megascans data – in beta.
The software was decoupled from Megascans subscriptions earlier this year, and has gradually been evolving into a more fully featured material-authoring tool.
Mixer and Bridge now free; all Megascans assets free to Unreal Engine users
Epic Games’ buyout will see both Mixer, which was originally intended to become a $99 standalone application at the end of the beta, and Bridge, its sister application, made available free.
The first free versions, Mixer 2020 and Bridge 2020, will ship later this year. No subscription will be required and both will be “fully featured”.
All 10,000-plus Megascans assets will be made available free for use with Unreal Engine: a process that will begin today with the release of 10 asset packs on the Unreal Engine Marketplace.
In addition, the price of Megascans has been reduced for non-UE4-users: subscriptions now include “nearly twice as much content to download”, and the resolution cap has been removed.
The ‘missing piece’ in the Unreal Engine ecosystem
Speaking to CG Channel, Epic Games general manager for Unreal Engine Marc Petit commented that the buyout provided the company with the missing piece in its Unreal Engine ecosystem.
“When people go online, they can get Unreal Engine for free [and] there is a free online learning platform and community support, but one thing is missing: assets,” he said.
“We want to accelerate the production of Megascans and the development of Mixer.”
Petit commented that Epic Games wants to integrate Mixer’s capabilities inside Unreal Engine in future – “Unreal is becoming more of a complete platform, so adding material creation makes sense” – but that the firm “still [sees] a need for Mixer as a standalone application”.
Asked if Epic sees Mixer as a long-term alternative to the Substance tools, Petit replied: “Yes, absolutely.”
Pricing and availability
Megascans subscriptions have been rejigged as a result of the buyout, with Personal subscriptions now priced at $19/month, down from $29/month.
In place of the old Business plans, Indie subscriptions, intended for teams with under $2M/year in revenue, cost $199/month, while Pro subscriptions, for teams with under $20M/year in revenue, cost $999/month.