Well, this move is interesting... inXile Entertainment, formed from the ashes of Black Isle Studios, are the developers responsible for Bards Tale, Wastelands 2 and Torment which is currently in early access. They also might be the developers responsible for a very new trend in game development... selling game assets to other game developers. They have teamed up with the popular 3D model store TurboSquid to sell the assets from previous titles.
From the TurboSquid press release:
New Orleans, Louisiana, Sept. 20, 2016 — inXile Entertainment announced a deal today to distribute 3D models from their game catalog exclusively on TurboSquid’s world-leading 3D marketplace. inXile, founded by game industry legend Brian Fargo, is the creator of PC video games including Wasteland 2, Torment, and the Bard’s Tale series.
inXile 3D models from previously released and upcoming titles will be available for purchase on TurboSquid’s marketplace. The move will make production-tested, AAA models available to professional, indie, and hobbyist game developers. inXile CEO Brian Fargo said, “We’re huge believers in stock 3D, and making our own studio’s labor intensive creations available will benefit the indie game dev community as they evolve and drive our industry forward.”
TurboSquid will begin by processing and publishing content from inXile’s recent release Wasteland 2. The models will be made available in common 3D and game engine formats. Fargo added, “3D models for AAA titles are often built and used for only a single title. It made sense to create additional value out of our existing content by opening it up to other developers.”
Matt Wisdom, TurboSquid CEO, envisions this becoming common practice for many game studios. “Studios are often sitting on thousands of 3D models that were incredibly expensive to produce. Selling the content helps offset the rising costs of development for the studio, and it allows developers around the world to access amazing, consistent, game-ready models.”
TurboSquid and inXile expect content to start going online this year, and all models will be available with a standard royalty-free license.
It will be interesting to see what price point these assets are released at. In some ways it could be a massive boon for game developers if reasonably priced. Having game tested ready to go 3D models would certainly be a time and money saver. This is especially true for more generic models such as fences, buildings and the like. However once you start getting into less generic models, such as characters or enemies, games made using these assets will quickly start feeling quite similar. It will also be interesting to see what they will do with more unique models such as key NPCs or highly game specific set pieces. They will have a struggle to balance IP rights with the royalty free release.
It makes a lot of sense from a developer perspective. There is a massive cost sink in creating these assets and very little chance of reuse outside of a sequel. It will be interesting to see if any other game developers follow suite.