Disney to Invest $1.5B in Epic Games to Build ‘Persistent Universe’

Credit: Disney / Epic Games

In an earnings call yesterday, Disney announced that it is investing $1.5 billion in Epic Games for a minority stake in the company. Along with that comes a multi-year partnership to build a “new persistent universe” that will be interoperable with Fortnite, Epic Games’ smash hit. The universe will offer consumers the opportunity to “play, watch, shop and engage” with Disney content.

Robert A. Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said in a statement that the new relationship will bring Disney’s “beloved brands and franchises” together with Fortnite in a “transformational new games and entertainment universe.” It is Disney’s largest entry into the world of games and offers many opportunities for growth and expansion.

Tim Sweeney, CEO and Founder of Epic Games, added that Disney was one of the first companies to believe in “bringing their worlds together with [theirs] in Fortnite.” Now, the two companies are coming together to build something entirely new that will be a “persistent, open and interoperable ecosystem.”

Disney and Fortnite have partnered before. In fact, the news seems like a strengthening of their previous relationship if anything. There have been Disney skins available in Fortnite for some time, and Fortnite once hosted a specific Marvel-themed battle royale.

Bringing Disney’s IP into an open, gaming universe would still be a big deal. The company has countless popular brands that resonate with people across the world, including Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and more. Check out the teaser for the new digital universe below:

One key component that Sweeney mentioned is that Disney already uses Unreal Engine, which may make the project a little easier from a technological standpoint. Disney shares are up since the announcement.

A Disney-Fortnite Metaverse is in the works?

While neither company used the term “metaverse” in their announcements, the language suggests that this new universe will be akin to that very concept. Users will be able to “create their own stories and experiences” and “express their fandom in a distinctly Disney way.”

Other language in the press releases from Disney and Epic Games suggest the same: “persistent,” “interoperating,” and “expansive and open” are all hallmarks of metaverse enthusiasts, who desire an open virtual world connected to other worlds, where they can bring a single avatar across all realms.

Even though Disney laid off its metaverse unit in March of 2023, it has continued to pursue partnerships in Web3. In November of last year, Dapper Labs, creators of NBA Top Shot and other NFT collectible platforms, announced it was teaming up with Disney to launch a “pin” marketplace, where Disney would license its IP to create digital collectibles.

Such ventures are tantalizing for Web2 companies looking to diversify, as metaverses and NFT projects have the potential for high revenue streams without the cost of having to constantly produce physical products.

The ending of the YouTube video says that the Disney-Fortnite universe will be coming “soon(ish)” and Rarity Sniper will be here to report back on it when it launches.

Related articles: