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Unity acquires Weta Digital, its tools and 275 staff for $1.6 billion

Video games buys Hollywood in a cash plus stock deal

Game tech outfit Unity has acquired elements of New Zealand-based SFX company Weta Digital for $1.625 billion in cash and Unity stock.

Speaking about the importance of the deal as providing technology for the metaverse, Marc Whitten, senior vice president and general manager, Unity Create Solutions said in a blog post, “To the point of this significant acquisition — to our creators now and in the future. We believe we are just at the beginning of an enormous need for rich, interactive, compelling, 3D content — in games, in movies, and far beyond”.

Best known for its work on The Lord of the Rings films, the Peter Jackson-founded company will bolster Unity’s technology when it comes to film production and movie-style special effects.

For its $1.6 billion, Unity has gained ownership of Weta’s tools, pipeline and 275 of – but not all – its engineering staff.

Examples of the proprietary tools Unity will now have access to include Manuka, Lumberjack, Loki, Squid, Barbershop, HighDef and CityBuilder.

It will also get Weta’s collaborative data platform and its library of assets.

Weta’s separate prop-making firm and its special effects teams are not part of the deal, however.

Now open to all

“We are thrilled to democratise these industry-leading tools and bring the genius of Sir Peter Jackson and Weta’s amazing engineering talent to life for artists everywhere,” said John Riccitiello, Unity President and CEO.

“By combining the power of Unity and Weta Digital, the tools and technology that built characters and scenes from the world’s most iconic films such as Avatar, Lord of the Rings, and Wonder Woman will enable an entirely new generation of creators to build, transform, and distribute stunning RT3D content.”

The proposed acquisition is expected to close during Unity’s fourth quarter 2021 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Written By

Data fiend and editor-at-large Jon Jordan has been writing/speaking about the games industry since 1999. He's always been a man who's a step ahead, gaze firmly fixed beyond the horizon, rarely content with the here-and-now. So he's particularly pleased the rest of us are finally catching up – but he knew we eventually would.

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