After hosting millions of free 3D models online, Sketchfab is betting that augmented reality and virtual reality developers and creators will be willing to pay for premium 3D content.
Launching as a beta on Wednesday, the Sketchfab Store offers up to 4,000 models for purchase.
A screenshot of a page from the Animals & Creatures category shows that prices for models range from $5 for a low poly animated cartoon squirrel to $70 for a rusty version of a sphere bot. Meanwhile, a model of the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S with more than more than 323,000 quadrangles and 12 textures costs $150.
"We started Sketchfab to help creators distribute 3D content on every platform and get discovered," said Alban Denoyel, CEO of Sketchfab, in a statement. "Our store is the natural evolution of that."
Customers can download their purchases in the royalty-free GL Transmission Format (gITF) that's compatible across a wide range of platforms and easily import models into Unity with an importer tool. Before purchasing 3D models, Sketchfab shoppers can also preview them in the store's 3D player, which includes a "Model Inspector" where customers can examine the textures and topology of their purchase.
In addition to offering buyers an attribution-free model for use in their apps and experiences, the store enables creators to monetize the content they host on Sketchfab. In exchange for carrying the content in its store, Sketchfab takes a 30% cut of each sale.
"Right now, during the beta period, we pre-approve sellers, based on quality. We then plan to open selling to more people," said Alban Denoyel, the CEO of Sketchfab, in an email to Next Reality.
In terms of free, user-generated content, Sketchfab claims to have the largest library of 3D content, with more than 125,000 models available for download, as well as a robust online community. With a plethora of platforms for building AR apps and experiences now available, such as Apple's ARKit, Google's ARCore, Facebook's AR Studio, Snapchat's Lens Studio, and Amazon's Sumerian, all coming online within the last year, the demand for 3D models to use in AR experiences is higher than ever.
We've seen a growing need and market for 3D assets, especially as VR and AR have become more mainstream. We introduced a free download feature in 2014 and today see more than 200,000 downloads every month.
But despite the opportunity for growth, Sketchfab faces stiff competition from bigger brands, namely Remix3D from Microsoft and Poly from Google.
Now the question is: With all this competition, as well as access to a wide range of free models, will customers pay for access to premium 3D models so early in the development of the AR app space? We're about to find out.
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