Epic Games has announced it has acquired Quixel, the software firm which created Megascans, for an undisclosed sum. Quixel’s Megascans are huge libraries of ultra-high quality 2D and 3D photogrammetry assets which have been used in games such as Battlefield V, Metro Exodus, and Destiny 2, as well as in huge movies such as The Jungle Book, The Lion King, Black Panther, and Pacific Rim: Uprising.

Photogrammetry is a method through which objects are photographed and recorded and then reconstructed in a 3D space, offering up near photorealistic objects with a comparatively minimal performance hit. For any old developer to do this would be an immense amount of work, which is where Megascans comes in.

Developers have been able to buy assets and subscriptions for Megascans but, following Epic’s acquisition of Quixel, the feature is now being rolled into Unreal Engine 4 (version 4.24) as a completely free feature. This means a free Quixel Megascans library of over 10,000 assets which developers can use in their games as they wish. Anyone who has already paid or subscribed for Megascans from Quixel will be given a full refund of the money they’ve spent.

“Building photorealistic 3D content is an expensive endeavor in game development and film production. By coming together with Quixel to make Megascans free for all use in Unreal Engine, this level of artistry is now available to everyone from triple-A studios to indies,” said Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games.

“Our mission at Quixel has always been to make the world more accessible for everyone through ultra-high resolution scanning,” said Quixel cofounder Teddy Bergsman. “As part of Epic Games, we’re now able to accelerate this vision as we grow the Megascans library, speed up the development of Bridge and Mixer, and improve integrations with all major 3D software and renderers.”

The extra cash injection from Epic Games means Quixel can now redouble its efforts on adding more Megascans assets and they’re already promising a huge uptick in the quantity and quality of photogrammetry assets which will be available in UE4.

It’s another big play from Epic Games and they’re in a formidable position in terms of Unreal Engine 4. It’s comfortably the biggest game engine in the world right now for AAA game development and this doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon. Having both UE4 and Fortnite in its locker means Epic are a huge force in gaming, and  the success of UE4 likely means Epic is well prepared to take the hits from any drop in Fortnite’s popularity, or any failure of the Epic Games Store.