Disney invests over $1.5 billion in Epic Games to build a Fortnite “games and entertainment universe”

Mickey Mouse opened his stock trading app yesterday and made a hell of an investment, as the Walt Disney Company revealed that they have acquired a 1.5 Billion dollar equity stake in Epic Games, the company who is behind the Unreal Engine and some dance simulator called 2 weeks or something. In addition to this equity stake, the two companies will start on a multiyear project that will create “an all-new games and entertainment universe”.

It’s a somewhat ironic twist given the media conglomerate’s attempts to have their own interactive games studios infrastructure on to tear it down all within the late 2000s and early 2010s. However it makes a tremendous amount of sense for Disney to get a slice of that Epic pie. Despite its primary reputation as an entertainment company, Disney has utilized plenty of groundbreaking technology including Epic’s Unreal Engine in its works, from their amusement park attractions such as Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run to even their live action fare such as virtual sets for The Mandalorian.

On the Fortnite front, plenty of Disney properties have leapt out of the Battle Bus in the past including TRON, Marvel, and Star Wars. This partnership already has gamers frothing at the mouth as to what possible beloved Disney characters can come to the ever changing island (This is in addition to the AVATAR collab that is rumored to be in the works)! Fortnite has been known to host special events such as Nexus War and concerts for recording artists such as Marshmello and Travis Scott, one might even surmise that the Disney Parks themselves can be imported one day into the free to play title. I will note though you will never be able to replicate the taste of a Dole Whip digitally…

See a trailer and the official press release for this epic collaboration below.

The Walt Disney Company and Epic Games will collaborate on an all-new games and entertainment universe that will further expand the reach of beloved Disney stories and experiences. Disney will also invest $1.5 billion to acquire an equity stake in Epic Games alongside the multiyear project. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

In addition to being a world-class games experience and interoperating with Fortnite, the new persistent universe will offer 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. Players, gamers and fans will be able to create their own stories and experiences, express their fandom in a distinctly Disney way, and share content with each other in ways that they love. This will all be powered by Unreal Engine.

“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 Officer, 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 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, CEO 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.”

“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,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Experiences. “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.”

Deepening the Epic Games & Disney Relationship

Disney and Epic Games have engaged hundreds of millions of players through Fortnite content integrations, season collaborations, in-game activations, and live events, including the Marvel Nexus War with Galactus, which drew more than 15.3 million concurrent players.

Unreal Engine is used to produce assets and 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.

This all builds on Epic Games’ participation in the 2017 Disney Accelerator program, which seeks to impact the future of technology and entertainment.

Games Industry Growth & Disney Games Success

The digital world is growing and evolving with more than 3 billion video game players worldwide who want to move safely and seamlessly between the worlds they love, unleash their own creativity, and experience great gameplay.

Disney’s games business continues to deliver strong results since it shifted to a licensing business model in 2016. Disney is a leading games licensor working with best-in-class developers and publishers, including on the best-selling superhero game of all-time, Marvel’s Spider-Man. Licensed games from Disney garnered more than 150 award nominations, wins and other accolades in 2023, including multiple Game of the Year nominations for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. 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. In the U.S., the world’s largest games market, licensed titles from Disney regularly hit the annual top-10 best-sellers list.