Epic buys ArtStation

Both Epic and Unity are building their content stores but Epic is also building community. In April, the company acquired ArtStation and its parent company Ballistiq. The site not only sells content but it also offers instruction and gives people a resource for displaying their portfolio as a personal website.

As in the case of Sketchfab, Epic announced that it would be reducing the fees for content sold through ArtStation to 12% from 30%. If you notice a pattern here, it’s that Epic is going to 12% and a lot of the companies it is acquiring have been charging 30%. Guess who also charges 30%? Apple. These deals aren’t directly part of Epic’s war against Apple. Epic needs content to help its customers build the richest possible world within the Unreal engine. However, it’s notable that these companies had modeled their pricing structure on Apple’s. We would imagine that Epic would like to ignite a trend towards 12% fees for content sold through a marketplace platform because that’s precisely what Epic thinks Apple should charge them for selling their content on its iOS-based platform.

In the announcement of its acquisition of ArtStation and Ballistiq, Epic says it will continue ArtStation’s programs for creators including those people creating content for games, media, and entertainment. The company pledges to grow the ArtStation community and build new capabilities that help the community grow and thrive and not incidentally make money.

That means Epic will support creators across different mediums, even if they are not creating content for Unreal Engine.

With this acquisition, Unreal reaches beyond 3D content creation and beyond the realm of game engines. Marc Petit, VP and General Manager of Unreal Engine, says, “we are thrilled ArtStation is joining Epic as we work to accelerate the development and growth of the creator community worldwide.” But, he’s not taking an untrodden path. This is a deal that should remind readers of Adobe’s embrace of Behance and the creation of Stock. That deal gave Adobe talented leadership and a direct line to potential customers.

ArtStation is similar in that it is led by Leonard Teo, an artist, enthusiastic entrepreneur, and talented team leader. Teo will continue to lead ArtStation at Epic. Petit praises the ArtStation leadership team and says, at Epic, the team will continue to support creator communities.

Teo says, “as part of Epic, we will be able to advance this message and give back to the community in ways that we weren’t able to on our own, while retaining the ArtStation name and spirit.

What do we think?

The ArtStation deal will bring in artists who will help feed the creativity of Epic. They’ll also help build a base of potential new users for Unreal. We’re seeing the development of creative hotspots where once there were companies. Organizations like Adobe, Blender, Epic, Foundry, Nvidia, and Unity are fostering the growth of communities of artists. As such, they are breeding grounds for new companies, new works of art, and even new genres.