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Unity, the 3D development platform used to create video games, has entered an agreement to acquire Weta Digital, the visual effects studio behind films like Avatar, Lord of the Rings, and more. The $1.625 billion purchase is a massive move with serious metaverse implications.
The two companies have entered a “definitive agreement,” which will see Unity acquiring Weta’s “tools, pipeline, technology, and engineering talent.” Unity will gain proprietary graphics and VFX tools that have been used to make some of Hollywood’s biggest movies, and it plans to make them available to creators down the line.
While Unity will gain the tools, Weta’s VFX teams will continue to operate as a standalone entity called WetaFX. Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson will retain majority ownership of WetaFX alongside CEO Prem Akkaraju.
A press release about the deal sheds some light on Unity’s long-term goal here: Shaping the “future of the metaverse.” The metaverse has been a hot topic in recent weeks thanks to Facebook — or Meta, as it’s now known. The company changed its name to emphasize its focus on building the metaverse, a more lived-in digital space. While Meta fired a very public shot, the concept of the metaverse has already existed for years in the video game world. Companies like Epic Games have led the charge, using games like Fortnite to get players used to spending more time in a virtual space with its own currency, events, and more.
Unity’s power-play is another key example of how serious the video game world is about creating the metaverse. The acquisition will give Unity users access to more powerful 3D tools that can be used to make more sophisticated video games, but the potential stretches far beyond entertainment. Weta’s tools could be used to create powerful digital experiences that accelerate metaverse efforts by giving creators the power to shape it.
Unity and Weta have only entered an agreement, so the final acquisition still needs to go through. That means it’ll be a while until we see the full effects of the deal. But it’s a major move that’s likely going to impact video games, movies, and just about every digital space.