Thursday, November 11, 2021 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Unity Buys Weta Digital

Greg Kumparak (via Hacker News):

Unity has just announced its intent to acquire Weta Digital, the legendary visual effects company co-founded by Peter Jackson, for a massive $1.625 billion.

[…]

Leading into this deal, Weta Digital was both a team of artists creating visual effects and a team of engineers developing many of the tools those artists use. It’s those tools and engineering teams, specifically, that Unity is acquiring; the visual effects artistry team, meanwhile, will be split off into its own new thing.

Weta Digital’s 275+ engineers will join Unity. The VFX artists will be spun out into a new entity, “Weta FX,” of which Peter Jackson will continue to own the majority.

Marc Whitten:

Our goal is to put these world-class, exclusive VFX tools into the hands of millions of creators and artists around the world, and once connected with the Unity platform, enable the next generation of RT3D creativity. Whatever the metaverse is or will be, we believe it will be built by content creators, just like you.

John Gruber:

Even just a few years ago, if you told me Unity and Weta were merging, I’d have assumed Weta was the buyer and Unity the acquisition. But it’s the other way around — and that represents the fact that gaming is now a bigger industry than movies. (As a friend notes, gaming is bigger than movies + sports combined.)

Update (2021-11-23): Ben Thompson:

Notice the transition here; at the beginning everything was integrated from the movie shot to the development process to the software to the individual computer[…] Over the ensuing 28 years, though, each of these pieces has been broken off and modularized, increasing the leverage that can be gained from the software itself; Unity’s approach of selling tools to the world is the logical endpoint.

[…]

It is striking how the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of Weta and Unity are mirror images of each other: Weta has cutting edge technology, but it’s only available to Weta; Unity’s technology, meanwhile, continues to improve, but its biggest asset is the number of developers on its platform and integration with all of the other components a developer needs to build a business.

[…]

Weta increases Unity’s market from not just developers but to artists, who can be plugged into Unity’s land-and-expand model. Weta, meanwhile, immediately gains leverage on all of the investment it has made in its software tools.

1 Comment

This was so out of the left field that I can't even be surprised. Fully unexpected.

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