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Disney invests $1.5bn in Epic Games to create new Fortnite universe

Disney has just secured a $1.5bn stake in Epic Games to develop a new Fortnite universe incorporating all of its major properties – including Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, ESPN, and more.

Epic Games has done it again!

The latest major coup for the publisher comes in the form of a hefty $1.5bn investment sum from Disney, and surprise, Fortnite is at the heart of the deal.

The entertainment giant’s minority stake will reportedly be used to build a ‘games and entertainment universe’ within Fortnite where players can explore all things related to Disney and its major properties.

Looking to exploit the mind-boggling spending power of the game’s player-base – which is comprised of fandom from just about every culturally relevant franchise you can think of – Disney chief Bob Iger says its ‘biggest entry ever’ into gaming will offer ‘significant opportunities for growth.’

The ever-evolving and expanding nature of Fortnite is particularly attractive to the multimedia giant, as it continues to grapple with lackluster box office metrics and unease over its attempted foray into streaming.

Turning to the ever-dependable medium of Fortnite to recoup its losses, Disney will work alongside Epic Games developers to build a world in which players can ‘play, watch, shop, and engage’ with its globally recognisable characters, stories, and brands.

Though we’re yet to glean any solid details about the project, Disney’s move appears to be a safe bet based on previous successes with the game. DLC packs for Star Wars and Marvel skins were both hits and its Marvel Nexus War with Galactus event drew more than 15.3m players in 2020.

We can assume, based on previous integrations like LEGO Fortnite, Rocket Racing, and Fortnite Festival, that the Disney universe will exist as a stand-alone game launchable from the Fortnite main menu.

The short promotional video offers a glimpse at a sprawling open world with several islands partitioned by a Disneyland hologram in the centre. All are connected by an exterior highway, which players will presumably use to traverse between areas in cars. Remember that bizarre collaboration with Shell?

Having laid off its own dedicated metaverse division last year, Disney has made a shrewd decision in opting for Epic Games to take the lead on development. Despite my personal indifference to Fortnite, there’s no denying it remains a global phenomenon with zero signs of losing interest, revenue, or willing collaborators.

Given the endless possibilities for Disney DLC content, which will obviously coincide with future box office releases, all signs point to the enterprise being a rip roaring success.

Considering Disney just acquired the rights to stream Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour film – with five additional songs which will not be shown in cinemas – you can also bet that Epic Games is keen to capitalise as soon as possible. Disney’s shares are already up 7%.

If the Swifties indeed join Fortnite’s 350m player base, it’s curtains for Epic Games’ servers.