The Walt Disney Company has invested $1.5 billion to acquire an equity stake in Epic Games, and has announced plans for a major collaboration with Fortnite.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney is the controlling shareholder of Epic and “will continue to maintain control of the board following the close of this transaction”, Epic told GamesIndustry.biz.
Disney and Epic described the project as a ‘open, persistent, social universe’. It will be a games experience, but also offer the ability for fans to ‘watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories’ from across Disney’s portfolio, including Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and Avatar brands.
“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 Disney CEO Robert A. Iger.
“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 Experiences chairman Josh D’Amaro added: “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. 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.”
Disney and Epic Games have worked together on numerous projects in the past, including branded partnerships within Fortnite. Disney has also utilised Epic’s Unreal Engine to create content in its games, films and theme parks.
The partnership follows Epic’s expansion of Fortnite, which included the launch of LEGO Fortnite, Fortnite Festival and Rocket Racing in December.
Epic’s Tim Sweeney added: “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. 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.”