Unfortunately, Maxon is simply not in a position to truly capitalize on this unexpected turn of events with Bodypaint 3D.
In fact, both Adobe and Maxon share two similar handicaps; neither of them cater to game development markets. Traditional industries of television broadcasting, education, desktop publishing, product visualization, marketing and photography remain as their main focus. Adobe in particular is infamous for viewing game development and VFX industries with disdain.
Game developers, most of whom consist of independent small teams or individuals, form the nexus of Allegorithmic’s customer base. These people were attracted to a company that fostered an indie friendly atmosphere with a pricing structure to match. Allegorithmic offered great value for high quality texturing tools which could either be bought outright or leased to own. Either way, you were provided with a perpetual license with the final cost based on annual income. The superior workflow, affordability, progressive licensing terms and supportive community allowed those game developers with limited budgets to operate without Photoshop and thus, free themselves from Adobe’s subscription services.
Now, these same customers are suddenly met with the stark reality that their beloved Substance Painter and Designer are in the hands of a company whose priorities are more aligned with the casual Behance photographer or the guy with the unenviable task of creating office stationary than on the needs of game developers. To say nothing of the vast software graveyard that is the history of Adobe acquisitions, of course.
In addition to seeing the end of perpetual licensing, Allegorithmic customers are acutely aware of the possibility that Adobe will slow the developmental pace of Substance software, perhaps to abandon it entirely at a later date as they cannibalize its technology for Dimension, often referred to as Keyshot for dummies. Those who choose to stay will likely need to install the resource sucking CC manager to load future versions of Substance Painter and Designer; further adding insult to injury.
Allegorithmic’s success was due in no small part to the desire of independent game developers to detach themselves from the Adobe ecosystem. Now, those same customers who were once fiercely loyal to Allegorithmic have been rewarded with what could only be described as betrayal following a sell out to the one company they wanted most to avoid. The simple realization is this -independent game developers who invested in Substance software are the sacrificial lambs to Adobe’s concerted effort to bring 3D to the masses. This is why the uproar in response to Adobe’s acquisition of Allegorithmic is so deafening.
As for Maxon, the company has never set their sights on game development and as such, they have a much bigger hill to climb.
The world of content creation for games is still largely dominated by Zbrush, 3DSMAX and Maya with Blender quickly closing the gap. Maxon is a very distant contender, far behind even MODO.
Stacked against Maxon are the lack of substantive business partnerships between it and major game development studios and more importantly, game engine companies. This is something Autodesk has been cultivating for many years and as a result, continue to enjoy native support for its file formats from Unity, Unreal and CryEngine that make authoring much more seamless.
Pricing is another hurdle for Maxon. Bodypaint is around $945 with an upgrade price of about $650. As of the date of this posting, both Substance Designer and Painter can be had for about $300 USD. Those are perpetual licenses for TWO programs – costing 50% less than the Bodypaint upgrade price alone.
I’ve yet to even mention the numerous weaknesses already suffered by Cinema 4D (inadequate UV mapping toolset, limited character animation, etc.) which has an unjustifiably high price tag of $3500 USD where modern game production is concerned.
To cater to the game development market, Maxon would need to fundamentally alter its pricing tiers and licensing terms. That means offering an indie version of Cinema 4D Studio with flexible income level based pricing for game developers. Limitations may include maximum output resolution of 4k x 4k and perhaps the deactivation of some specialist features needed only by film/VFX artists such as motion tracking.
Bodypaint 3D itself would require a massive rewrite to bring it to the level of a professional PBR texturing tool that is similarly priced to the competition.
The only indication I can see where Maxon may begin to shift gear in terms of strategic focus was from their recent announcement of targeting the VR market. Creating for VR has identical requirements with conventional game development but with added considerations for physical hardware attachments. Even if taken seriously, that will still be years away for a company like Maxon who favors a more ponderous approach.
At the moment however, it makes more sense for a budding game developer to start with Blender or even Maya LT at $10 a month for a full featured modeling/animation package. Should the worst happen to Substance Painter and Designer, 3D Coat or even Blender’s Eevee plugin could be possible alternatives in the future.
Adobe’s acquisition does bring up an interesting question however. If Adobe intends to develop Dimension as a full 3D package with easy mode buttons, will they integrate it with After Effects and if so, what will become of Cinema4D lite?