Canada-based U-Dimensions is about to launch a service specializing in 3D printed game figurines, but there’s something a bit different about their approach.
In fact there have been many attempts at such a business over the years, and many have folded.
The idea is that game players are interested in acquiring physical items based on the 3D content in the games they frequent. Most game companies have no method of producing physical items, so if they are interested in this business sideline, they simply outsource the work to traditional mass manufacturers.
However, that approach produces identical items for those players interested in the object. It’s valuable to them, but U-Dimensions’ idea is that such objects would be even more valuable if they were customized and unique to the individual player gathering collectibles.
Again, this sort of thing has been attempted previously with consumers: offering ways to tweak aspects of an original 3D model to develop something custom, and then print it for them. That sort of thing never caught on big with consumers, perhaps because the objects in question were “generic”. Here instead we have “collectible” objects that are part of a familiar game.
But that’s not the most unique aspect of U-Dimensions’ approach. Whereas previous systems were directed at consumers themselves, U-Dimensions is instead targeting the game companies themselves.
And they seem to be successful, having signed up over 140 indie game developers that will test the system when they launch. Some of them will become full time clients of U-Dimensions. However, it remains to be seen how successful this will be. It is possible that characters in certain games might have more “print demand” than others.
But it’s a good strategy by U-Dimensions, as even if the receive few print requests from each participating company, they can accumulate all of the requests from all of their clients to develop a reasonable stream of print jobs. Each print job will provide them some revenue, so this might just work.
U-Dimensions is essentially a niche-targeted 3D print service, which is probably the best way into that market these days, with larger competitors already occupying the major generic print services spaces.