Seller Spotlight: Protofactor

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Protofactor, Inc is a small Southern California based 3D Art Studio. We specialise in creating royalty free real time stock models for the video game industry.

The characters we create are mostly creatures and monsters inspired by the Heroic Fantasy genre, but we also create truly original ones. I would qualify our models to be “believable” where others would say realistic… They look real and when you see them you could tell yourself: “well, that might have been…”

We started selling our first models back in early 2011, 7 years ago already! We wanted to help the people creating their own real time projects and video games by providing them quality art assets at an affordable price. Indeed a lot of them are doing that as a hobby.

We’re happy to say that 100% of the income generated by the company comes from the sales of our library of products. We usually avoid taking contract work unless it looks really exciting.

For 2018 we decided to create a road map so that our past and future customers could know what would be in the works during the year. We also set up an online survey so that people can vote for their most anticipated packs. This year we’re starting with our upcoming “Monsters Pack Volume 2” which will include 5 monsters. We usually analyze which products are selling better than others and go from there in order to decide what type of content will be created.

Here is the first monster of that pack, baptized Deinodonte:

Customers

A lot of hobbyists have been using our products in a lot of different real time projects. Some small professional studios have released commercial projects with some of our creations. The last to date was that VR shooter video game: “VR Real Feel Alien Blasters”. They also used our Monster Boss in the packaging of their product.

Another successful commercial project using a lot of our products is Demon’s Rise 2: Lord Of Chaos. They used , for example, our Wyvern and a lot of others as well.

Pricing

Finding the right price for your work can be pretty tricky. Indeed you don’t want to ask for too much otherwise nobody can afford it but you don’t want to price it too cheaply, because then you’re just underselling your great work and it’s not sustainable for a professional.

The first thing to remember is that the time and effort invested in royalty free stock models won’t pay off right away. Never expect that. If you’re lucky it will be profitable in about 6 months, but in most cases a year or two, sometimes even longer…

When pricing a model you need to consider a few aspects:

  • How many potential customers are suspected to be interested in the product? (The more potential customers, the lower the price)
  • How hard is it to reproduce such a model? (The harder it is, the higher the price)
  • Are there other similar products? Competition has to be considered. (Price needs to be aligned with them. Never undercut a price, unless what you’re selling is clearly of a lower quality or with way fewer features)
  • How long did it take to produce the model? (The longer it takes, the higher the price)

With all those elements in mind you can balance everything out and choose your price. On our end our prices for individual models is between $14.99 to $44.99, with the average being around $24.99.

Marketing

Once a model is created, the work is not done yet. It would be too easy. You can’t just dump it in the wild and expect it to be successful. You need to do some promotion and marketing. Social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. is the best way to go. Going to the forums, where you know there are going to be some potential customers, to present your products is something you have to do as a seller.

If you don’t have one yet, create your own website and blog, if possible, with a newsletter that people can subscribe to. This is great to engage your customers and let them know about what’s new or what is coming soon.

Set up

Setting up our products on Sketchfab is pretty straightforward and easy. We simply export out our showcase version (the one to be displayed in the viewer) and then we set up the lighting mood that is the most accurate to represent the model.

We also use a few post processing filters such as bloom, Tone Mapping, Vignette, sometimes Depth of Field to enhance the overall visual quality. Once this is done we export the model to fbx in various ways (all animations on one timeline, or individual motion per fbx file, if there are morph targets we export them out as well, etc…).

Finally, we write down all the animation frames on a .txt file for users willing to use and split the animation timeline themselves in the real time engine of their choice. Once all this is done we create an archive that will be the actual final product.

Sketchfab is the biggest 3D platform worldwide, now that they created their store it’s a no-brainer for any company selling 3D content to be part of it. As a seller, you need exposure where you can find it, and being on Sketchfab means that you can reach millions of people checking out 3D models online.

Their 3D viewer is of a great quality and clearly shows customers the product they’ll be getting. It’s clearly What You See Is What You Get, plus the fact that they now have a powerful inspector that lets you examine the model in all aspects (geometry, textures etc.). Customers won’t be making any mistakes when they decide to purchase a model.

Being able to check out the model in real time is a huge deal for our company since we’re selling real time 3D content this is why we’re using their platform.

About the author

Protofactor

California-based 3D Art Studio


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