Disney invests $1.5 billion in Fortnite and Unreal Engine creator Epic Games

Fortnite Epic Games and Disney
(Image credit: Epic Games / Disney)

What you need to know

  • Epic Games is the video game publisher and developer best known for creating Fortnite, as well as the uber-popular game development kit Unreal Engine. 
  • Disney is investing big in games, acquiring a stake in Epic Games for $1.5 billion. 
  • The investment will see Disney and Epic Games collaborate on "an all-new games and entertainment universe."

Another big player is tossing a lot of money into the gaming industry. 

Disney is investing $1.5 billion in Epic Games, as shared in a press release on Wednesday. This collaboration between the two will result in a "an all-new games and entertainment universe," that will function in some capacity alongside Fortnite, pulling on Disney brands like Avatar and Star Wars. You can see the announcement trailer for the partnership below:

“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, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, adding that “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 of 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.”

What does this mean for Fortnite players?

In the short term, nothing will be changing. Looking ahead, we've seen Epic Games' studios work on smaller-sized games inside of Fortnite. It's possible this Disney collaboration could look pretty similar, just at a much larger scale. 

Different worlds themed after various Disney properties could each have their own sub-games, providing changing experiences based on what someone is most interested in. Whatever the case, we know that this new project will be build using Unreal Engine. 

What does this mean for Epic Games?

This is the latest in a number of big investments garnered by Epic Games, with the company previously receiving over $1 billion as Sony acquired a stake. Despite these prior infusions, the company laid off 870 employees last year, or around 16% of the total workforce, due to poor choices in spending on the Fortnite Creator program, as well as extended legal battles.

Analysis: A smart team-up

While I remain sour on the concept of the "Metaverse" as has been bandied about by investors (though it's fallen by the wayside in favor of "AI" lately) I do maintain that of every company out there, Epic Games' vision of Fortnite is the closest thing to a gaming metaverse that we've really seen. 

Teaming up with Disney (and receiving a needed infusion of cash) makes total sense, and we could potentially get some great gaming experiences out of this. I'm looking forward to learning more. 

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.