Autodesk seems to follow a strategy to go deeper into the "real-time, interactive 3D authoring tools" market.
The acquisition of Softimage was completed before yesterday (18th Nov.). In a public FAQ it says the following (emphasis added):
[..] It is hoped that this acquisition will promote Autodesk’s growth in the fastgrowing games market, and accelerate its strategy to deliver real-time, interactive 3D authoring tools for games, film and television. As well, it is hoped that the acquisition will broaden the appeal of Autodesk products into the hobbyist/game ‘modder’ segment. […]
[…] it is hoped that the acquisition will accelerate Autodesk’s effort to build the next-generation of real-time, interactive 3D authoring tools.[…]
One of the key competitors is Dassault Systemes. But also the overall evolution is that interactive 3D becomes part of other products – as seen in Photoshop or Microsofts XAML/WPF. Autodesk clearly mention this in that FAQ too:
[…] The 3D competitive landscape is fast evolving. Relatively new competitors, from Google to Adobe, are entering the 3D market, and others such as Dassault Systèmes are reinforcing their position. The production pipeline is rapidly expanding beyond simple digital content creation (DCC) tools. […]
A bit strange is this statement:
The Softimage product line will benefit from Autodesk’s scale and research and development (R&D) investment capabilities, providing new opportunities for innovation and interoperability
It is said that XSI 7 with it's new ICE technology, was a nice release. Do they really need the R&D teams of 3ds max and Maya? They probably wanted to say that they can now do a big remix with the hope of heavy synergies.
So we have some big key players going into interactive 3D, but what about the smaller ones? Gamebryo expands to the casual game market … and tiny Unity3D expands to the MMO market. CryEngine2 goes into architecture and public viewing. Interesting times, everybody expands to other market-segments.