Disney invests $1.5bn in Epic Games to develop ‘persistent universe’

The Walt Disney Company has announced it is investing $1.5 billion to acquire an equity stake in Fortnite maker Epic Games.

As part of the investment, the two companies will collaborate on the creation of what they describe as a new “persistent universe”.

Disney said that the move would create a “multitude of opportunities” for consumers to play, watch, shop, and engage with content, characters and stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and more.

Powered by Unreal Engine, Epic Games’ real-time 3D creation tool for photoreal visuals and immersive experiences, gamers will be able to share content with eachother and create their own stories and experiences.

The tool is already used to create content across the Disney portfolio, including in the development of video games like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor; in cinematic editing and animation for film and streaming; and in the creation of more than 15 Disney Parks attractions like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

“Our exciting new relationship with Epic Games will bring together Disney’s beloved brands and franchises with the hugely popular Fortnite in a transformational new games and entertainment universe,” said Robert A. Iger, chief executive, The Walt Disney Company. “This marks Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of games and offers significant opportunities for growth and expansion. We can’t wait for fans to experience the Disney stories and worlds they love in groundbreaking new ways.”

Disney and Epic Games have already worked together on Fortnite content integrations, season collaborations, in-game activations, and live events, which have engaged hundreds of millions of players.

“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,” said Tim Sweeney, chief executive and founder, Epic Games. “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.”

Disney said that its existing games business is delivering strong results since it shifted to a licensing business model in 2016.

Disney mobile games have 1.5 billion global installs, and to date, nine Disney games franchises have each grossed more than $1 billion in sales.

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