Disney investing $1.5 billion in Epic Games to build a Fortnite ‘persistent universe’

Disney and Fortnite creator Epic Games have joined forces to develop what’s described as an expansive and open games and entertainment universe, with Disney announcing a $1.5 billion equity investment in Epic.

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While details on the metaverse-like project are limited, Disney explains that it will offer a world-class gaming experience intertwined with Fortnite, providing numerous opportunities for players to engage with Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar, and other content. This universe will empower players to create their own narratives and expressions of fandom while sharing content in a distinctly Disney manner, all powered by Unreal Engine.

This initiative echoes Epic’s recent collaboration with Lego, facilitated by a $2 billion investment split between Sony and KIRKBI, resulting in the launch of Lego Fortnite earlier this year. This expansion beyond Fortnite’s battle royale roots has seen the introduction of other games and experiences like Fortnite Festival and Rocket Racing.

The collaboration between Disney and Fortnite is not new, with numerous Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney characters previously featured in the game. In 2020, a Marvel-themed season was even introduced.

While Epic has been vocal about building a metaverse, Disney’s involvement comes after scaling back its dedicated metaverse division last year. Disney CEO Bob Iger views this partnership as the company’s significant foray into gaming, foreseeing immense growth opportunities. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney emphasized the collaboration’s aim to create a persistent, open, and interoperable ecosystem uniting Disney and Fortnite communities.

The timeline for the metaverse’s debut remains uncertain, but the collaboration has already borne fruit: Rocket League, part of the Epic portfolio, will receive a Mandalorian-themed update, featuring a Grogu car topper.