Disney’s $1.5B Investment in Epic Games: Even though Lego Fortnite has only been out for two months, Epic Games has already made a bigger game with Lego.
Epic Games and Disney said today that they will work together on a “all-new games and entertainment universe” that will use a tie-in with Fortnite to bring characters from Disney’s extensive library to life. Epic Games will give Disney a $1.5 billion share in the company as part of the deal.
Disney’s $1.5B Investment in Epic Games for Fortnite Universe
For starters, the project sounds like it will be very big. The companies said in a press release that the new project would be “an all-new games and entertainment universe” where people could “play, watch, shop, and engage with” Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and other characters and stories. The group’s work will use Epic’s Unreal Engine and aim to be “interoperable” with Fortnite, connecting to Epic’s current system for online multiplayer games.
“This marks Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of games and offers significant opportunities for growth and expansion,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said of the partnership, which apparently grew out of Epic’s time in a Disney Accelerator program back in 2017.
The Disney partnership is a surprise, but it fits right in with what Epic is set to do next. In the past few years, the company has greatly expanded Fortnite’s features. What started out as a popular battle royale game (it was actually a player-versus-environment game before that) has grown into a hub for user-made game types and brand partnerships.
“Disney was one of the first companies to believe in the potential of bringing their worlds together with ours in Fortnite, and they use Unreal Engine across their portfolio,” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said in the announcement. “Now we’re collaborating on something entirely new to build a persistent, open and interoperable ecosystem that will bring together the Disney and Fortnite communities.”
Epic showed its commitment to making Fortnite more than just an online shooter by adding Lego Fortnite, Rocket Racing, and Fortnite Festival in December. These are three full-on games that are very different from the original Fortnite. As for Disney, a close relationship and a big investment will let Epic’s advanced tools be used to make online social worlds where lots of people can build and play together at the same time.
Epic’s successful Fortnite store lets customers buy dance moves, emotes, and in-game clothes called “skins.” The store also provides useful infrastructure for what could become an endless digital mall filled with Disney-themed goods. Disney and Epic already work together on brand collaborations in Fortnite, and the game has a lot of collectible skins of famous characters from Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The two companies have also worked together to put on a live in-game event called Fortnite Nexus War in 2020.
Since Disney’s surprise investment doesn’t have a release date beyond “soon(ish),” that at least means players won’t have to wait years for the ambitious partnership.