Disney Buys A $1.5 Billion Stake in Fortnite Maker, Plans for New Game Universes
Disney wants to meet Gen Alpha in video games.
The future looks like video games, according to Disney. The entertainment giant just announced a $1.5 billion stake in Epic Games and plans to create a new “games and entertainment universe” together, building on Disney’s characters and stories, over several years. Both companies boast vast portfolios of characters and worlds, so it’ll be intriguing to see what sorts of games come out of this deal.
Disney and Epic could work on expanding the cinematic and game worlds of brands like Disney princesses, Kingdom Hearts, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and Avatar, according to a press release.
“Disney’s investment in Epic Games tells you that conventional media and entertainment firms are finally ready to really dive into the games industry,” Joost van Dreunen, a lecturer on the business of games at the NYU Stern School of Business, tells Inverse. “It’s a watershed moment in entertainment with video games at the center.”
In a statement, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney says that Disney already uses Epic’s technology, Unreal Engine, throughout the company in making video games like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Both companies pointed out Fortnite’s various in-game events like the Marvel Nexus Galactus event in 2020, which they note brought in over 15 million players. When asked if Fortnite’s Pixar-like animation style had any bearing on the deal coming together, a Disney communications officer directed Inverse to the press release.
“This marks Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of video games,” Disney CEO Bob Iger says in a Wednesday earnings call. He noted that gaming is a big-time hobby for Generation Z and Generation Alpha.
“This new universe from Disney and Epic provides us with a tremendous opportunity to not only meet more consumers where they are, but to allow more audiences to cultivate a bond with Disney’s iconic brands and franchises, including Marvel and Star Wars,” Iger says.
Iger was asked on the earnings call why invest in video games now, versus earlier in his career, as Disney has made various strides in gaming over the years, including the Wii’s Epic Mickey, a now-discontinued series. The more he talks about Disney and Epic’s upcoming projects, the more it sounds like a potential bundling of Disney parks, Disney’s streaming service, and maybe even a challenge to TikTok.
“What if we create a gigantic Disney World?” Iger says, noting that Disney’s Spider-Man licensed games have been its biggest gaming success in the past. “A world that could live next to Fortnite and be completely interconnected with it. A world where people can play games that we create, could create their own games, could watch. You could imagine the creation of short form videos, or maybe we may even use the platform to actually distribute some of our content.”