Poly Petition Potentially Protects Programming

Mike Wiebe & Erik Horn

December 8, 2020

A Poly Puppy by Ayako Hirayama

Expeditions and Tours are closed for business.

announced recently in an email to Poly users, that they will be shutting down the 3D-object creation and library platform “forever” next year.

For the uninitiated, Poly (while it’s still up) is a 3D gallery with everything from fully realized environments, to smaller sized assets — many of them created with Google’s VR 3D creation tool, Blocks. Many of these assets are for sale or free with credits. The site has been a much beloved beacon for VR artists, and an important tool in their workflow as it integrates with Unity. Shutting down the site is a huge blow for those who showcase their work there, as well as those who used it’s VR developer tools. The timing is particularly painful for VR artists who might already be challenged financially due to Covid. It would be akin to musicians losing Bandcamp, or artists who creates commissioned paintings of dogs that look like Napoleon losing Etsy.

The service is said to shut down on June 30, 2021 and users won’t be able to upload 3D models to the site after April 30, 2021

Alliterative headline aside, it would be a true shame to lose all this great content. While most of the artists will get a heads up and be able to back up their projects, the connectivity of this community will be a great loss. To be able to scroll through an organized site with curated pages and links to artists other works, as well as, genre categories is a big win that will be sorely missed if brought back in a less accessible way.

A petition by U.K. based artist Rosie Summers (check out her amazing work), has been started, to keep the site alive and make it open sourced. The petition states : “This directly impacts artists and creators using their (Google’s)paid product, Tilt Brush, as they lose the ability to easily share and view their creations easily with their clients and the world.” Summers laments the timing of the short sighted decision, not only because of issues surrounding the pandemic, but also that it’s at a clear start of another VR/AR boom..

“To me the timing of the shutdown is particularly odd, as the cost of entry to VR is rapidly falling, and it feels like the XR content revolution is about to begin. Poly would and should have been a key component in the digital asset space.”

The petition has over 500 signatures already, and it seems like it’s not too big of an ask for Google to open source the site.

We propose that Google should open source as much of the Poly platform as possible, allowing the community to create a drop-in replacement for this vital service. This includes the brush shaders that are vital to displaying Tilt Brush creations correctly.

To sign the petition go here

Check out our other post about Expeditions and Tours shuttering which happened earlier in the year.