Disney Invests Big in Epic Games for a Magical Metaverse Adventure

The Walt Disney Company partners with Epic Games to develop a "universe" connected to Fortnite, pulling in characters and stories from Marvel, Pixar, Disney and other catalogs. Image credit: Captain America background from YouTube screenshot.

Disney and Epic Games are teaming up, so you might soon be able to play as your favorite Disney, Marvel, or Pixar character in Fortnite! As part of this blockbuster partnership, The House of Mouse will invest $1.5 billion in Epic Games.

In a release, Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, said, “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. This marks Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of games and offers significant opportunities for growth and expansion.”

YouTube player

The significance of the deal is undeniable, especially when you factor in the catalog of characters and the different games that could be developed. It reminds me of “Kingdom Hearts,” the role-playing game series from Square Enix, another studio that Disney has a collaboration deal with. Throughout the game, players interact with a multitude of Disney characters from Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to Goofy, Maleficient, Jiminy Cricket, the Fairy Godmother and many more.

However, unlike “Kingdom Hearts,” there’s more flexibility with the Epic Games collaboration. Any future games will be platform agnostic — it should be playable on your PC, mobile device, tablet, game console, or even when wearing a VR headset like the Meta Quest or Apple’s Vision Pro.

Disney and Epic Games have worked before. Together, they produced Fortnite content integrations, in-game activations, and live events including the widely discussed moment involving the planet-eating titan Galactus.

However, as my former VentureBeat colleague Dean Takahashi notes, this is also Disney’s latest bite at the metaverse apple. Its previous attempt didn’t fare so well with its division shuttering about a year ago. Disney perhaps recognized the expertise of Epic Games in this field and decided to entrust the experts with leading the way.

If Disney succeeds with this partnership, we might soon witness a game similar to Super Smash Bros. in the metaverse, featuring a plethora of our beloved characters to select from, or perhaps new “Star Wars” game titles will be launched, allowing us to embark on quests as an Avenger.

There are many possibilities for what Disney could do in this scenario, but it will undoubtedly extend brand loyalty beyond its theme parks, movies and television shows, Disney+ and merchandise. Future games could potentially integrate its D23 fan club, offering exclusive perks to loyal members.

And it’s not only game development that’s a possibility here. Disney says that 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.” In other words, welcome to the immersive Disney universe, accessible 24/7 wherever you are.

We don’t know yet when this partnership will first bear fruit, but I’m certainly excited to experience what might be virtually the happiest place on the internet.

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