Since 1992 companies have been building and selling libraries of 3D models. This has made 3D much more accessible and affordable to customers that may not have had the resources in-house to produce this content. Back then, these libraries were provided by very few specialized production shops and were packaged and shipped to companies in CD archives.
Fast forward 8 years to 2000 and we see the explosion of web based businesses during the dot com bubble. Selling 3D models online also jumped on the bandwagon. Libraries created by specialist companies became a thing of the past and anyone with 3D skills around the world were able to put their 3D models online for sale.
Over the years a number of 3D marketplaces have emerged and the need for 3D models is still going strong. We are now seeing many of the larger companies, especially those responsible for the software behind the industry, understanding the importance of content and companies like Autodesk, 3D Systems and Adobe have been acquiring companies in this field.
Viewpoint DataLabs – 1992
Founded in 1988, Viewpoint Datalabs specialized in providing CGI services for architecture and motion pictures. By 1992 they established a scanning and digitizing team to create libraries of 3D models ranging from kitchen utensils to airplanes for use in the companies CGI work. These 3D models would later be used in Mortal Kombat, Virtuosity, Independence Day, From Dusk Till Dawn, An American Werewolf in Paris, to name just a few.
REM Infografica – 1996
Founded by Jose Maria De Espona, REM Infografica announces collection of over 5,000 3D models for 3ds Max 1.0 Beta on a 9 CD collection for $495 USD. The model collection is dubbed the “Model Bank”.
Viewpoint DataLabs – 1999
Viewpoint becomes exclusive distributor of REM Infografica’s Model Bank increasing the number of available 3D models in the Viewpoint catalog to 20,000.
Digimation – 2000
Founded in 1992 by David Avgikos and Tom Avgikos in Louisiana, United States, Digimation provides video training and plugins for 3D Studio. The company begins the creation of 3dBay, an online marketplace for buying and selling 3d models.
TurboSquid – 2000
David Avgikos and Tom Avgikos of Digimation team up with Andrew Wisdom and Matthew Wisdom to create TurboSquid, an online marketplace for buying and selling 3D models. The site will offer over 70,000 resources for sale to customers.
Daz Productions – 2000
Daz Productions specializes in providing both 3D content and software for 3D human models to the prosumer market.
TurboSquid – 2001
TurboSquid announces the completion of its first round of funding lead by Advantage Capital Partners. A total of $5.1 million in funding is received from Advantage Capital Partners, Eastman Kodak and Intel Capital.
TurboSquid – 2002
Disagreements over the company direction lead David Avgikos (CEO) to leave the company. Digimation becomes completely separated from TurboSquid. Later, David Avgikos is convicted of digitally spying on TurboSquid and required to pay $17,000 to TurboSquid in damages.
Digimation – 2002
Digimation becomes the exclusive licensor of Viewpoint DataLabs’s 3D Model Catalog, becoming a direct competitor to the TurboSquid 3D marketplace. The new Digimation model bank collection is later launched on ModelBank.com and includes 1,160 fully textured 3d models each with multiple levels of detail. The entire collection can be purchased for $695 USD.
3d02 – 2002
Founded by Wesley Chow in 2002, 3D02 provides 10 3D model libraries for direct sale online. The site would continue to specialize and become known for the sales of high quality 3D vehicle models.
Exchange3D – 2003
Founded in 2003 by Greg Solovyev, Exchange3D is created as a competing service to other 3D marketplaces available. It becomes a direct competitor to TurboSquid, Digimation, and 3d02.
The3DStudio – 2004
Founded in 2000 by Matt Anderson in Arizona, United States, The3DStudio announces to users that it will allow them to be able to sell their 3D models online. Prior to this date, The3DStudio website provided free to download 3D models and resold texture packs from 3D Total.
NetrinoMedia – 2004
Founded by Sergey Guziy in 2001, NetrinoMedia launches 3DExport, a competing marketplace that sells 3D models online.
TurboSquid – 2006
TurboSquid announces GameFlood, providing tools for game developers to create 3rd-party add-on content for video games. GameFlood attempts to bridge the gap between developers and gamers, allowing players who have never created game content before to easily customize maps, characters, and weapons.
Falling Pixel – 2007
Founded by Nathan Hornby and Jonathan Lloyd in Portsmouth, England. Falling Pixel becomes the first European based online marketplace for 3D models. Notable differences included multiple site currency, custom 3D jobs, and artist payment on demand services.
Flat Pyramid – 2007
Founded by George Egbuonu in California, United States. Flat Pyramid launches and provides marketplace for the sale of 3D models and textures. Notable site difference includes service to request photographs and ability for users to buy and sell video games.
Creative Crash – 2008
Will McCullough of Creative Crash, formerly Highend3d, announces the acquisition of the Digimation Model Bank to boost its offering of 3D models available on the CreativeCrash 3d marketplace.
TurboSquid – 2009
TurboSquid announces the SquidGuild, an exclusivity program for 3D artists. Exclusive artists would receive up to 10% in additional royalties. However, non-exclusive artists received up to 10% lower royalties, depending on lifetime sales.
That same year TurboSquid also announces that GameFlood was not a success and will be discontinued in order for the company to focus on selling 3D models.
Envato – 2009
Envato, founded in 2006 by Collis Ta’eed, announces the release of 3dOcean, a marketplace for selling 3D models, textures and plugins. Envato adds this to their compliment of other marketplaces specializing in the sale of other digital products, notably ThemeForest, their flagship product for the sale of website themes.
Unity Technologies – 2010
Unity Technologies, provider of the Unity development platform for games and interactive 3D, announces the release of the Unity Asset Store. The store will provide scripts, 3d models and tutorials to developers.
TurboSquid – 2011
Acquires Falling Pixel and Exchange3D. Jonathan Lloyd, Falling Pixel’s Managing Director / CEO, joins the TurboSquid management team.
Later that year, TurboSquid announces CheckMate Certification, the industry’s first quality standards for the production of 3D models.
3D Systems – 2011
Acquires The3DStudio.com. The site is later updated to showcase Cube, 3D Systems’ professional 3D printer, the site also begins to promote 3D printable models.
CGTrader – 2011
Founded by Marius Kalytis in Vilnius, Lithuania. CGTrader is a 3D marketplace backed by Intel Capital and Practica Capital. CGTrader uses a different business model to other marketplaces, requiring artists to pay a fee to sell 3d models instead of the traditional royalty structure of other sites.
3D Systems – 2014
3D Systems acquires Gentle Giant Studios, a developer and manufacturer of license 3D printed characters, toys and collectibles.
The3DStudio site is updated to include Gentle Giant Studios licensed collectibles alongside the existing 3D models found on the marketplace. Later, in 2015, 3D Systems removes all 3D models from The3DStudio website. The store becomes an exclusive destination for 3D printable and becomes a store for licensed collectables.
Creative Market – 2014
Founded by Aaron Epstein, Chris Williams, and Darius A. Monsef IV in 2012. Autodesk announces that it has acquired Creative Market for an undisclosed amount in a competitive strategy to develop a more consumer-focused offering.
Adobe – 2015
Adobe, makers of flagship product Photoshop, acquire the Mixamo team responsible for allowing prosumers the ability to animated 3D characters without the need for 3D knowledge. Since this time Adobe has launched Fuse CC, software that allows you to create customized 3D character models.
Creative Market – 2015
Creative Market announces the addition of a 3D content category and integration with Sketchfab, making it possible to interact with 3D models live in the product page.
TurboSquid – 2015
TurboSquid announces the release of PixelSquid, a marketplace that offers pre-rendered 3D content available in multiple angles directly in Photoshop.
TurboSquid also becomes the official Ford Motor Company 3D content management partner and exclusive reseller of Ford 3D models.
In partnership with Ford Motor Company, TurboSquid launches 3d.ford.com, the official site showcasing Ford printable 3D models and professional 3D models.
Many of the same companies are still operating today and we are starting to see bigger players like Autodesk, Adobe and 3D Systems having increased involvement in the content side of the market.
We are even seeing more non-software companies like Ford Motor Company jumping on the digital content bandwagon.
It is hard to predict the future of the industry, but one thing that continues to grow is the need for digital content. From movies to games, architecture to virtual reality, digital content is in great demand.
I hope you have liked this post. If there is anything I am missing and you would like to add, please leave a comment below.