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ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine Brings Real-World Data Into Unreal Environment

Esri releases version 1.0 of Unreal Engine 5 ArcGIS Maps SDK.


From real to unreal, from unreal to real. ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine blurs the distinction between the real world and the virtual world.

Esri, the world’s largest GIS software firm, recently released version 1.0 of the ArcGIS Maps SDK for Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5. Back in June, the company launched ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unity.

The feature-rich ArcGIS Maps SDK plugin for Unreal Engine empowers developers to create interactive and photorealistic 3D experiences with real-time geospatial data.

Accurate and Precise Visualization, Real-Time Interaction

ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine is a suite of developer tools that brings real-world geospatial data from ArcGIS directly into the development environment of Unreal Engine 5. With direct access to real-world maps and 3D content in ArcGIS, users can create real-time virtual worlds in incredibly clear resolution and highly accurate visualization.

Unreal Engine 5 is now enhanced with the dynamic global illumination power of Lumen. This enables the creation of scenarios where indirect lighting is more responsive to changes on the fly. The platform also features a new World Partition system, improved mesh modeling, and expanded tools from previous versions.

ArcGIS augments these features with robust data sources including integrated mesh scene layers, 3D object scene layers, and global basemaps. By integrating accurate spatial data from ArcGIS, Unreal Engine 5 allows developers to create new classes of applications that bring unparalleled experiences for developers and end-users alike.

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“At Epic, we’re committed to building the most open and advanced real-time 3D creation tool, freeing up digital creators to leverage Unreal Engine’s capabilities as part of their existing content creation pipeline,” said Sébastien Lozé, Unreal Engine Simulations Business Director at Epic Games, in a post.

ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine - San-Francisco
San Francisco textured buildings with demographic data, global imagery, and elevation, viewed from within the Unreal Engine editor.

Some of the key features to watch out for in this production release are interactive GIS visualizations, support for multiple layer types, extensive spatial reference support, powerful geometry API and geometry engine, data rendering based on GIS attribute values, geolocation of actors, and no-code or low-code options. The streamlined toolbar and refined property pages further enhance usability.

Real-Time Interaction, Real-World Uses

With ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine 5, developers can build fully immersive 3D apps on macOS or Windows and deploy these apps to macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, and XR devices. By combining photorealistic elements and real-time data, it enables the creation of digital twin experiences for use in a vast range of industries.

Developers can build solutions for AEC, transportation, education, utilities, urban planning, public safety, environment conservation, and many other sectors. They can develop anything from tabletop AR to world-scale AR or VR experiences that work both online and offline.

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ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine - documentation
SDK documentation with conceptual guides, API reference, tutorials, samples, and more.

To start creating 3D experiences and apps using ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine, create an ArcGIS Developer account and download the ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine plugin. Once installed, set up your Unreal Engine project and get an API key.

ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine Is a Collaboration That Paves the Future of Development

ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine is the result of the collaboration between Esri, a trailblazer in digital mapping, and Epic Games, an innovator in game development.

“The work done by the Esri team in this collaboration will allow the entire GeoInt community to leverage the rich diversity of created content existing in the ArcGIS ecosystem,” said Lozé. “And we’re excited to see how the release of the ArcGIS Maps SDK plugin for Unreal Engine will create virtually unlimited immersive, interactive, synthetic environments in Unreal Engine 5.”

With both companies committed to building tools and delivering solutions that empower creators and developers, we can look forward to a bright future in the world of software development. Ultimately, these fruitful collaborations result in meaningful digital experiences that enrich our lives in the real world.

Gergana Mileva
the authorGergana Mileva
Based in Prague, CZ, Geri is a freelance journalist and writer, focusing on technology, finance, and marketing. If you have a story suggestion for Geri, you may contact her here.