Maxon acquires ZBrush!


Good grief. How is this news going to go down among the ZBrush fanbase? I bet you can kiss goodbye to all those free updates…


LOL what?

Say goodbye to your lifetime upgrades and welcome to subscriptions. I bet there’s going to be some overjoyed ZBrush users.

This all has the feeling of ‘Squirrel’, look over there!! while C4D languishes in the doldrums of glacial development.

C4D is no longer Maxon’s prime focus, it’s just one of many Apps in the Maxon One subscription money spinner which is the focus and will likely get more and more expensive as more Apps are acquired.


Meanwhile, Redshift got really buggy, and I no more see a real advantage in using it. Funny, when I started using it, other than the speed, the other reason why I was telling my colleagues to try Redshift was how stable it used to be.

Being still a C4D user, I don’t feel too excited about the direction Maxon is headed. Every day, it feels more and more like another Adobe.


Yes, I test drove Octane and Redshift before buying and while Octane looked better is crashed several times while testing so I chose Redshift. It had speed, stability and rapid development.

Fast forward to 2021 and Redshift has gone nowhere fast under Maxon ownership and it wouldn’t surprise me if the same fate befell ZBrush.

‘We anticipate perpetual licenses will continue…’ Yes, they might but at a vastly raised premium no doubt.


I genuinely can’t believe Pixologic went for this, given its own legacy and Maxon/ McGavran’s track record. Bit by bit these greedy corporations are destroying CG for anyone except professional artists and studios. Thank God for Blender. I’m still using C4D but ultimately I think I’ll be priced out of the Maxon ecosystem and over to Blender and those apps I can buy and own.


And we all know how well MAXON has treated C4D over the years. Yay?!? :confused: There’s always Blender and 3DCoat so…


Oh God this is terrible.


Yes. Yes it is. Think about the many apps and services over the years that have been destroyed thanks to acquisitions.

Microsoft buys Caligari… trueSpace gets killed off.
Vizrt buys NewTek… Whatever life support LightWave was on gets yanked.
Autodesk buys SoftImage… Buh-bye XSI.
Adobe buys Macromedia… Dreamweaver promptly gets destroyed and infused with a bazillion bugs.
Adobe buys Substance… Non-Steam perpetual licenses go away
Google buys SketchUp… Cannibalizes the app for parts and then sells it back off when they’re done.

It’s not just software either. I can go into exactly how the Disney buyout of Marvel in 2009 hurt as much as it helped, but that’s a topic for another forum. Either way, acquisitions can and often do go bad. I don’t see anything good coming out of this Pixologic buyout. It’s one-sided and only MAXON will benefit. Longtime ZBers WILL feel the pain at some point. Maybe not immediately, but almost certainly before 2024 or 2025. Don’t think that anything’s going to change? Think again. Bank on it.


There was a time when Maxon were seen as the good guys, well judging by the comments I’ve seen on certain forums that view is a thing of the past.

This big fish eating eating smaller fish scenario will continue until there are just a handful of options to choose from, this Zbrush acquisition won’t be the last. I would expect in the coming months Maxon will buy a 3d paint software to replace BodyPaint, they’ll probably have a go at buying some fluid simulation software etc etc. The glue that will bind these Apps is USD.

It’s unlikely Redshift will ever come natively with C4D, now that ZBrush is on board C4D’s native sculpting tools will never be touched again. All the features you expected to get developed in C4D will be replaced by external Apps that you will pay a premium for courtesy of Maxon One.

The C4D developers can’t develop their way out of a wet paper bag so the CEO is buying up tools to fill the gaping workflow holes. You can see what’s happening, Maxon One subscription is becoming the C4D Studio of today but the clever part is instead of paying $800/yr for C4D you’re going to pay double if not more in the coming years for the Maxon One suite.

@Darth_Mole, it’s not just hobbyists who’ll be priced out of the market. When you’re a freelancer and you have to subscribe to several of these product suites, several of your plugins are now subscription only and of course if you have your own renderfarm you may have to spend on several additional subs it all becomes a significant expense especially if you’re in a territory that doesn’t pay as highly as others.

The only way you can insulate yourselves long term is to join the fight back with the FOSS community. Get behind free(dom) open source software, use it and contribute to the development funds, get involved in its development and suggest features. On Monday I saw that Orestis Konstantinidis (former Maxon UX designer) is now a member of the Blender Animation & Rigging Module team. This is great news that the Blender developers will have his experience to draw upon for the update of the animation system that was postponed due to C19.

You don’t have to sit there thinking how am I going to afford all these subs each year or whether you can continue with your hobby. Screw that noise.


Why didn’t they buy X-particles!?!??
This buy doesn’t make any sense.
C4d is mainly used by motion designers I think. So a sculpting tool?!..


It’s clear that Maxon has no clear direction on where they want to go.

They are buying up everything under the sun; things that seemingly have no synergy with C4D and I suspect it is all out of fear of being left behind.

Red shift was bought to keep C4D relevant. But having served its purpose, it now languishes.

Red Giant has remained stagnant since its acquisition. It was just a hostage to hold incase Adobe decides to marginalize Maxon out of the AE equation by creating a Blender AE plugin or possibly replacing Cineware with its own offerings as a direct bridge

Now we have a ZBrush acquisition. What is this even for? Maxon can’t even improve C4D beyond a glacial pace let alone revamp the Zbrush UI.

The inevitability is that Blender is going to put Maxon, Autodesk’s Entertainment division and Luxology on the backburner by normalizing the concept of offering base 3D software with standard functionality for free while allowing developers unrestricted access to the third party market. The consumer pays nothing for the standard tools and only buys the add-ons that they want rather than paying subscription fees for things they don’t.

Houdini and Maya still have specializations in VFX and integration that specific companies will continue to use while Cinema4D, a program designed for graphic artists with no 3D backgrounds, has an aging mograph module that is being duplicated in other applications. C4D has nothing beyond loyalty from its userbase to keep them in the fold. Little wonder why Maxon feels the need to throw everything at the wall in hopes that it sticks for their Maxon One offerings.

What’s funny is that Maxon has thus far ignored the ONE thing in their acquisition binge that everyone wishes were apart of C4D – XParticles.


I see the X-Particles acquisition comments come up regularly and I find it somewhat surprising to say the least. Consider the benefit to you if Maxon buys X-Particles, you know the Maxon who has allowed vast areas of C4D to languish and atrophy?

Firstly, for Maxon to buy X-Particles Insydium has to be up for sale, so far the indications are that Insydium is not for selling if Maxon has shown any positive moves in that direction.

If you were Insydium how would you like to see your life’s work end up at Maxon, over your dead body perhaps?

If Maxon did buy X-Particles do you think they’d give it to you as part of your C4D subscription at no extra cost or would you pay extra, like you do for Redshift or as part of Maxon One? Many thought Redshift would be included in the C4D sub but it hasn’t and I suspect any acquisition would be a similar paid bolt-on.

The thing to keep in mind with the Maxon acquisitions is that they bring in completely new customers to Maxon who may never have ever used C4D. There are probably more non-C4D customers using Redshift and Red Giant software than C4D users that’s why these acquisitions make sense, same with ZBrush.

C4D is no longer Maxon’s main focus, it is just one part of Maxon One. The Maxon One acquisition strategy is about diversifying Maxon’s income from just one tentpole application, C4D, to a range of applications. This is why an X-Particles acquisition is actually makes less sense than the ZBrush one.

If you want to start guessing what company will be next to be acquired look for tools that have a large non-C4D userbase too. I would’ve said EmberGen if they hadn’t tied up with OTOY so maybe Effective TDs Storm simulation software or if the Maxon credit card has space Next Limit? These make more sense than X-Particles from a corporate strategy point of view.

Personally, I think X-Particles is better off in the hands of Insydium who are motivated to make it the best it can be. Refresh your memory of Thinking Particles development or lack there of.


Regarding X-Particles, I would tend to disagree with you here.

First, if history is a guide, Maxon is buying the whole company each time, not just the tech, so basically, you get a big fat check and get to keep doing what you were doing before. That may appeal to some. Including the guys at Red Giant or Pixologic (who didn’t ask me a dime since I got ZBrush 1.55b years ago.)

Then, the reason why Maxon didn’t go for Insidyum is precisely because they don’t have to. Insidyum’s business is already totally dependent on C4D. So basically no one else is going to buy them anytime soon, there’s no hurry. Also, who knows if they’re not working on an inhouse particle system with their nodal core (whenever it’s ready…).

Then it is clear that Maxon is in a policy of diversification of its portfolio to avoid being dependant solely on C4D. Blender is making the generalistic “DCC” model less and less secure, as only specialist apps can really justify a premium cost over the pretty good “free” option now. Going for another C4D only app isn’t what I call diversification. At least not as a priority.

The idea of McGavran, based on his experience at Adobe, is to really make the general “fruit basket” or ecosystem as attractive as possible. You may not be ready to pay for half of it, or even a single one in isolation, but overall you might think “That’s a pretty good deal…”. Or if I’m already using this one, why not use this one too since it’s included etc…

Whether or not that will succeed is a different question. It’s not really for me, but things are changing fast. By the look of it, we might all be rendering, modelling and rendering in Unreal or Unity in the next five years…


There’s absolutely no coincidence in Unreal and Unity being big supporters of the Blender development fund who are very interested in funding and assisting the USD support. It’s important for these companies to have the widest and most diverse funnel into their respective Engines as possible.

The tie up between Epic and SideFX and Unity buying Weta says the game is changing don’t get left behind.

Absolutely no one, not even Autodesk, is going to outspend Epic or Unity on RT renderer development, they are already hiring the best people in the industry and are a magnet for all the others too. An incredible future is within touching distance for 3D artists and its one where it’s going to be a little turbulent for the incumbents.


What I was saying is that Maxon’s current “subscription bundle” isn’t for me. Not that Epic and Unity aren’t for me.

Actually very much the opposite! I’m using both Unreal (for virtual sets) AND Unity (for prototyping) all the time.

C4D has always played nicely with Unity, and with Datasmith it’s also now a breeze to work with Unreal.

But as long as my R21 license works and costs me nothing, I’m not upgrading. And when I do… It might or might not be for C4D at all.


I wasn’t disagreeing with you EricM, I was just waffling on with additional points.


I recently ditched Adobe apps in favour go ‘buy once and own’ products (Apple Motion and Affinity Photo).

I loved After Effects before it went subs-only, and I really like Substance Painter, which I have a perpetual license for. But if I wanted to keep going with C4D, X-Particles, After Effects, updates for Substance and rendering with Octane, every year it would cost me £1,555* a year! Not counting any other plugin/app updates or maintenance costs, or hardware purchases – and now not counting ZBrush subs!

This is where subscriptions kick the little guy in the nuts. And, of course, once you’ve signed up, if you stop paying you can no longer use any of this stuff. No wonder Blender has so many users.

*(C4D: £661, X-Particles Fused maintenance: £180, Substance 3D texturing: £176, Octane: £300, After Effects: £238)


I was scanning the pixologic twitter and so many replies had references to Blender in them e.g. I better start learning Blender then! I was amazed because Blender’s sculpting is great for a general DCC but it isn’t ZBrush yet and far from it and will probably never be. But the Blender mindshare continues to grow.

I did see that Blender now has a full time Sculpting developer starting Jan 2022. He published a road map which should bring VDM (vector displacement maps) to Blender’s sculpting in due course. I believe this is one core area where ZBrush’s tech is way ahead of Blender currently.

The roadmap is here if you’re interested.

So it looks like more sculpting tools for 3.1/3.2 and a lot of core development for the 3 cycle.


I would largely blame C4D’s apparent slow rate of improvement on the move from 24 month releases to 12 month ones about 10 years ago.

They used to release a major release with TONS of new features that read like a wish list of fan requests. Then, at the 12 month mark, they’d release a much smaller x.5 release that would fill in the gaps, patch bugs, and generally make users happy with a surprise new feature. That odd “off year” really gave them more time to refine the big stuff for the next full release.

However, having moved to annual full version releases, there’s this added pressure of faking innovation and hyping lackluster alternate releases. Just look at how they tried to pass off R16’s cogwheel spline primitive as some grand revelation to justify a lack of new stuff. Asking people to pay upgrade prices for what should have been a free plugin? Nah. Sketchy. Maxon’s under so much pressure to perform and deliver every year that it’s getting to them.

As for the “why” of them buying ZBrush… WTF knows?!? What I do know is that they also bought the iOS sculpting program “Forger” some time ago and turned it into a subscription-based app… Maybe they’re looking to replace it with a mobile, subscription-based version of ZBrush and hoping to capture that market. Maybe they looked at what Adobe has done with Sketchbook and Photoshop, having desktop and IOS versions, and decided that it was a tactic that they wanted to also pursue.

I can’t see them changing C4D’s sculpting tools, however. Just like how 3DCoat’s voxel approach creates a technical divide between itself and its poly tools, ZBrush’s pixol engine might have a hard time fully integrating into C4D’s all poly engine. Pixols, ZBrush’s 2.5D approach to representation, make it super fast, but also create some basic hurdles tech-wise. Any integration of ZBrush tech into C4D is bound to feel duct taped on. (Almost how Quixel’s original painting app felt only partially integrated into Photoshop.)

Yeah. I mean… There are LOT of features in C4D that have gone neglected and abandoned for far too long. Particles are just the tip of that iceberg. Particles. Hair. Cloth. 3D Paint & UVs. ETC. There are literally still issues and lingering defects that trace all the way back to R7.

Same. On paper, Adobe’s apps are superior in every way. In practice, however, Affinity’s suite will let you do everything that you need to just about as easily. I think that this surprises some people because Affinity’s apps are relatively young. However, in reality, they’re almost as old as Adobe’s apps. Affinity Photo, for example, is just a re-engineered version of Serif PhotoPlus that debuted nearly 27 years ago. That’s why it seems so polished. For my money, I’d rather support Serif than buy into Adobe subs or claw my eyes out trying to make Gimp/Krita work like I want it to.

Praise be to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Cthulhu, or whomever you have to thank for this. Pablo’s recent departure was a huge blow. Blender’s sculpting tools were developing at lightning speed under his oversight. With him gone, many had feared that they’d stagnate. Glad that’s not going to happen. Not that Blender’s current sculpting tools are bad. You can easily sculpt in real-time with 6mil-25mil poly counts depending on your hardware and methodology. It’s just… More power! More power! :smiley:

I only wish that somebody were paying more attention to the texture painting. I hope that they are and that I just haven’t seen the info on it. A refined node-based 3D paint system with full layer handling would really round things out nicely. Right now, their texturing tools are… okay. They’re just incomplete, which is why various addons exist and why so many people support ArmorPaint and Material Maker.

As for ZB, the topic at hand, I don’t worry about it getting discontinued. I worry more about it getting forgotten or ruthlessly exploited like C4D. That’s a real concern.

ZB may be the king granddaddy of all sculpting apps, but - in real world terms - it CAN be replaced. ZB’s main advantage is really poly count. That’s it. With alternatives like Blender and 3DCoat holding their own IRL models, Maxon should be at least slightly aware that some people may leave ZB .


I would attribute X-Particles as a natural extension to C4D rather than as a separate standalone product in the same vein as NEX retopo tools for Maya or Reactor was for 3DSMAX.

I would suspect that X-Particles would be something that adds value to Maxon One.