Disney, one of the world’s largest entertainment companies, has invested $1.5bn (~£1.2bn) into game developer Epic Games.
The company will become a shareholder of Epic Games, with the investment focusing on Fortnite, Epic Games’ well-known battle royale title.
According to a release shared by the Walt Disney Company, the deal has two main components. The first is a strategic partnership between the two companies that will see Disney and Epic Games collaborate on ‘an all-new games and entertainment universe’ which will feature Disney IPs and characters. The other segment is the investment itself, which makes Disney a shareholder in Epic Games and will be subjected to regulatory approval.
Interestingly, the newly mentioned ‘universe’ will be connected to Fortnite, with Disney stating that it will be ‘interoperating’ with the well-known game. This likely means utilising Fortnite’s built-in map creation tools and world-building capabilities to create metaverse-like experiences focused on Disney.
Various esports stakeholders have utilised Fortnite’s world-building capabilities in the past. This includes Complexity’s partner company GameSquare collaborating with Mastercard to create a custom Fortnite experience. Moreover, a similar activation occured between South-Korean esports organisation Gen.G and Crocs last year.
In addition, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney noted that the companies are collaborating on ‘something new to build a persistent, open and interoperable ecosystem’.
The news comes a short time after Epic Games underwent a round of layoffs which affected several of its notable esports properties, notably Psyonix’s Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS). The esports league was scaled down recently, and both the RLCS and the Fortnite Champions Series, the game’s flagship esports series, were handed over to BLAST for production, marketing and oversight.
The new cash influx into Epic Games could have implications for its esports ventures, but neither Epic Games nor Disney mentioned esports as a field of focus in the future across initial releases and statements.
Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Experiences, commented on the news: “This will enable us to bring together our incredible collection of stories and experiences from across the company for a broad audience in ways we have only dreamed of before.
“Epic Games’ industry-leading technology and Fortnite’s open ecosystem will help us reach consumers where they are so they can engage with Disney in the ways that are most relevant to them.”