My Market Research

My research comes is at interesting intersection in that product-wise it would impact 3D modeling software and those in that industry who make it, but a much larger number of affected people would be those using said software in the video game development industry (and theoretically in other media industries such as animated films and marketing). Thus in my market research I investigated both sectors but for products focused on 3D modeling software and model repositories.

Market Sector Facts

As for the larger video game sector, In 2018 total video game sales were over $43.4 billion. I also found data that 75% of Americans report having at least one gamer in their household via the Entertainment Software Association (Source). Separately I also found that the value of the US video game market was reported as $18.4 billion in 2017, and the global market was valued at $104.57 billion and is expected to rise to $138.4 billion in 2021 (Source). For employment, I found numbers stating that in 2015 the industry had 2,4457 companies creating a total of 220,000 jobs through direct and indirect support (Source).

There is comparatively less data about the 3D modeling software industry because it is smaller, but I did find data that the industry was worth $1.06 B in 2017, and that value is predicted to rise to $2.96B in 2022 (Source).

Industry Players

Some of the biggest players in the video game industry include:

Xbox Game Studios

  • A subsidiary of Microsoft, which has a market cap of $1.05T and revenue of $125.8B in 2019. Their gaming revenue amounted to $10.35B in 2018 (Source).
  • Designs, develops and manufactures the Xbox game console. Also runs Xbox Live online service and distributes games through the Windows Store to PCs.
  • Subsidiaries: 343 Industries, Double Fine, Mojang, Obsidian Entertainment, Rare
  • Properties: Halo, Forza, Gears of War, Age of Empires, Minecraft
  • Data from Morningstar and Wikipedia

Sony Interactive Entertainment

  • A subsidiary of Sony Corporation which has a market cap of $73.59B
  • Develops the PlayStation console and manages related services including the PlayStation Network online service and PlayStation Now cloud gaming service.
  • Subsidiaries: Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, Insomniac Games, Guerrilla Games, SIE Bend Studio, SIE San Diego Studio, SIE Santa Monica Studio
  • Properties: Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, LittleBigPlanet, God of War, Uncharted, The Last of Us, Infamous, Killzone
  • Data from Morningstar and Wikipedia

Electronic Arts

  • Market Cap: $29.0B
  • Revenue: $5.15B in 2018
  • Develops, markets, and publishes games but also functions as a game distributor by running Origin, their own PC gaming platform.
  • Subsidiaries: BioWare, Chillingo, DICE, Criterion Games, Maxis, PopCap Games, Respawn Entertainment
  • Properties: Madden, FIFA, Battlefield, Mass Effect, The Sims, Dragon Age, and newer ones including Apex Legends.
  • Data from Morningstar and Wikipedia

Meanwhile two of the largest companies in the 3D modeling and creative software space are:

Autodesk, Inc.

  • Market Cap: $33.74B
  • Revenue $2.03B in 2017
  • Specific subsidiary for 3D modeling software: Autodesk Media and Entertainment
  • Autodesk makes a wide variety of 3D design and visualization tools that are used in many industries. One of their most popular (and oldest) products is AutoCAD which is aimed at architects and engineers, but they also produce the industry-leading 3D software Maya and 3ds Max which are more aligned with my research area.
  • Data from Morningstar and Wikipedia

Adobe Inc.

  • Market Cap $138.20B
  • Revenue $9.03B in 2018
  • Autodesk is a creative computer software company that primarily makes applications for 2D media such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere, and After Effects. However, recently they have begun to foray into 3D model creation through products such as Adobe Fuse, a human character creation application. Combined with their work on Adobe Sensei AI and Adobe’s seemingly greater aptitude than Autodesk to put out smaller, more specialized applications similar in scope to what a final version of my project could lead to, I see the company as a strong current and future player in the space related to my research.
  • Data from Morningstar and Wikipedia

Product Research

Next, looking at existing products in the 3D modeling software market segment, I identified the following five products that are relevant and could benefit by the results of my research:

Google Poly

Google Poly is a free platform for distributing and downloading 3D models developed by Google. The service does not feature any generative component nor ML outside of standard Google search algorithms, but is notable as a sort of standard for current offerings for individuals who want access to a wide range of 3D models without having to create any themselves. Of course a drawback to Poly is that as the library of objects in each categories is the same for everyone, using Poly models could make a game look similar or “cookie-cutter” to other games that use the same models, something my approach would hope to address. My research could benefit something like Poly by supplying the library with a near infinite supply of different variations of models instead of the same limited selection. (Link)

MakeHuman

MakeHuman is a free and open source desktop software that allows one to use a game character-creator like interface to create detailed and realistic humanoid 3D models. In a way similar to Poly, my research could help benefit something like MakeHuman by demonstrating a way that more unique characters could be created in the form of different body shapes than the same general ones output by MakeHuman each time. Theoretically even with the existing software, my research could benefit someone using MakeHuman leading to something else in their pipeline, so that they could use my results from my work to create additional models such as tools, weapons, enemies etc. needed for a game in addition to the ones they create with MakeHuman, since this software is limited to just making bipedal humanoids. (Link)

Autodesk Maya

Autodesk Maya is the industry standard software for 3D modeling in the game dev as well as film and television industries. It has powerful tools for the creation of 3D assets, but these tools require a trained artist who can execute on a vision to building something, which requires extra human capital and time resources. One of the main benefits that stands to stem from my research would be the ability for one to make 3D models in much less time and with less technical knowledge needed for operating a complex program such as Maya. Of course, as models from the method I intend to explore are much simpler than many assets that can come out of Maya, results from my research could serve as a complement to Maya by being a way to quickly produce simpler models for less important assets so that more time and effort can be dedicated to assets that will feature more prominently in a game and will require more topological detail. (Link)

SketchUp

SketchUp is a 3D modeling software in the vein of AutoCAD but with a much simpler and more lightweight interface. Perhaps for this reason and its tools SketchUp has also become a popular general-purpose 3D modeling software for certain applications, including video games. An interesting feature about SketchUp is its 3D Warehouse companion service which is a repository of 3D models like Google Poly. In this specific application, my research could improve the product by offering a way to quickly generate unique 3D models as alternative to the ones provided in 3D Warehouse. As with Google Poly, this could benefit those seeking novelty in a certain model to use. However, here the work could also benefit someone looking to place many of a certain kind of object, such as a flowerpot, in a scene, as my work theoretically could generate many similar yet slightly different models which would make the final product more visually interesting. (Link)

Thingiverse

Thingiverse is an online repository of 3D models developed by MakerBot, a 3D printer company. Naturally then the focus of this website is finding models for 3D printing, unlike other sites like Poly and 3D Warehouse. Users can search for an object such as “giraffe” and are presented with a selection of models in .STL format suitable for 3D printing. Once again, my research would either supplant something like this by allowing novel 3D models to be synthesized directly, or might just act as a source for more models for the website. One consideration is that (most) all of the Thingiverse models are specifically optimized to be 3D-printable with solid bases, no small thin parts etc. Since my research is primarily aiming for video games where this is not an issue there could be an incompatibility here. Nevertheless I think Thingiverse demonstrates that my research would have potential impact in areas outside just video games and into the real, physical world. (Link)