Disney and Fortnite maker Epic Games are teaming up to build what’s being described as an “expansive and open games and entertainment universe.” As part of the announcement, Disney revealed that it is investing $1.5 billion in an equity stake in Epic.
Details on what this metaverse-like project will look like are sparse, but here’s how Disney explains it:
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.
That sounds a lot like Epic’s recent collaboration with Lego. In 2022, Epic received a $2 billion investment — which was split between Sony and KIRKBI, an investment company helmed by the family behind Lego — which resulted in the launch of the survival game Lego Fortnite earlier this year. That launch was part of a new era for Fortnite, as Epic made a major push to expand beyond the game’s battle royale roots, turning it into a platform for other kinds of games and experiences. The release of Lego Fortnite was coupled with Fortnite Festival (a music game from the creators of Rock Band) and Rocket Racing (a racer from the studio behind Rocket League).
This is also far from the first collaboration between Disney and Fortnite, as a huge number of Star Wars, Marvel, and other Disney characters have been featured in the game. Back in 2020, there was an entire Marvel-themed season in the battle royale game.
Epic has been a very vocal force when it comes to the concept of building a metaverse, though Disney recently appeared to scale back its efforts in the space, laying off its dedicated metaverse division last year. (Epic also recently laid off a large number of employees, cutting 16 percent of its workforce in September.)
“This marks Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of games and offers significant opportunities for growth and expansion,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “We can’t wait for fans to experience the Disney stories and worlds they love in groundbreaking new ways.” Epic boss Tim Sweeney added, “We’re collaborating on something entirely new to build a persistent, open, and interoperable ecosystem that will bring together the Disney and Fortnite communities.”
It’s unclear when this metaverse will debut, but the collaboration has already yielded a curious announcement: Rocket League, which is under the Epic umbrella, is getting a Mandalorian-themed update complete with a Grogu car topper.
Update February 7th, 4:55PM ET: Article updated with details on Rocket League collaboration.