In news that is sure to make Adobe-haters everywhere fill with rage, Adobe has announced that they are acquiring Substance Painter & Designer manufacturer Allegorithmic.
I think this is an excellent move that will benefit creators everywhere in the long run. I’ve been using Adobe products for decades. I started using Allegorithmic tools shortly after I started making content for SineSpace in 2016. Since then, I’ve often wished that Substance Painter did certain things more like PhotoShop or that PhotoShop did certain things like Substance Painter. I also couldn’t help but notice that both companies’ products were complementary. Adobe had nothing like Substance Painter and Substance Designer (or the entire Substance ecosystem), and vice versa.
In that sense, the acquisition makes perfect sense and shouldn’t come as any surprise. It also shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, Adobe invested in Allegorithmic two years ago. I imagine the companies have been discussing possibilities ever since.
Not Selling Out
Allegorithmic CEO and founder Sébastien Deguy will be taking a leadership role at Adobe, as head of 3D & Immersive. He’ll be working under Creative Cloud Chief Product Officer Scott Belsky.
Several tech and game industry sites are posting stories about the news today, by far the best read comes from Sébastien Deguy. If you have a few minutes, read the post yourself.
Substances And SineSpace
If you haven’t already checked it out, take a look at this tutorial I made on how to use Allegorithmic Substances to improve your SineSpace builds.
Hopes And Dreams
I hope that this will give Allegorithmic’s team the resources to do a better job. Substance Painter/Designer are great programs, but there are massive lapses in some of the underlying technology. PC users don’t feel the pain as much, but as a Mac user the pain is real.
Apple introduced Metal first for iOS back in 2014 and then for macOS in 2015. This low-level graphics API is much faster than OpenGL (the previous standard). Most graphics software manufacturers have been quick to embrace Metal. Allegorithmic was an unusual holdout (unusual because they had nothing to gain). That also explains why they were unable to get materials layering to work cross-platform. It probably also plays a role in why Substances (the actual .sbsar files) take longer to render in game engines on Mac than they do PC.
They’re also not GPU-agnostic, their hardware acceleration features only work for users with supported nVidia cards. They struggle with integration, and specifically they have been struggling for quite some time now with their Unity plugin. While the Unity plugin got a lot better in January 2019, they still have a long road to go. I firmly believe that all those frustrating things are not because they were a bad company. They were a small one that did not have the resources they needed to get it done properly.
Playing to their strengths
All those things are among Adobe’s strengths. After rolling out an nVidia-only version of the Mercury Playback Engine in Premiere Pro in Creative Suite 5, they quickly built on that success. Soon they added OpenCL support. That meant users with AMD or even more higher end Intel GPUs could take advantage of hardware acceleration. They were also able to look for ways to take advantage of it elsewhere. In the next few releases Adobe had acceleration in After Effects, PhotoShop, and even Illustrator.
I feel like both companies already had a great understanding of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model. Having been in the computer and technology industry for some time, I remember the high costs to buy into a single professional program, and then the significant costs to upgrade and stay current every 12-18 months. Skipping an upgrade was an option, but that typically meant missing out on bug fixes, and then more headaches and an even greater cost when upgrading from an older release down the road.
While I wish both Adobe’s and Allegorithmic’s subscriptions were cheaper, I think both companies provide a good value with their subscriptions. I guess my biggest hope here is that all the benefits of the Substance Live program are just added to the existing Creative Cloud membership. For now both companies are conducting business as usual, we’ll see in the months ahead how that plays out for customers.
I wish Sébastien and everyone at both Allegorithmic and Adobe good luck, and look forward to seeing some great things in 2019!
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