Disney Invests $1.5 Billion in Epic Games for Metaverse-Like Gaming and Entertainment Universe

The global entertainment conglomerate is taking an equity stake in Fortnite and Unreal Engine Maker to create an expansive and open games and entertainment universe.
Image source: Fortnite on YouTube

Quick take:

  • Disney’s bid to bring some of its most iconic stories and characters to Fortnite is part of its strategy for adapting to the young generation.
  • The $1.5 billion is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.
  • The new universe will feature characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and more.

Disney may have dissolved its 50-member metaverse division, but its actions suggest the global entertainment conglomerate may not be done with creating immersive experiences in virtual spaces.

On Wednesday, Disney CEO Robert Iger told CNBC during an analyst call that his company is investing $1.5 billion in Epic Games, the gaming behemoth behind Unreal Engine and Fortnite.

“This new universe from Disney and Epic provides us with a tremendous opportunity to not only meet more consumers where they are and to allow more audiences to cultivate a bond with Disney’s iconic brands and franchises, including Marvel, Star Wars, and much more,” said Iger.

According to Iger, the company is not just interested in creating new experiences in its parks for consumers to engage with the characters and franchises they love. 

In this new partnership with Epic Games, the company is “creating a transformational games and entertainment universe that integrates Disney’s world-class storytelling into Epic’s cultural phenomenon Fortnite, enabling consumers to play, watch, create, and shop for both digital and physical goods.”

This announcement comes after the company dissolved its metaverse division in March 2023, joining other technology giants Microsoft and Tencent. At the time, the industry was in free fall, and the previously trendy buzzword called the metaverse was quickly becoming a word that companies looking to offer immersive experiences sought to dissociate with.

Disney does not mention the word in describing the type of content it will be creating with Epic Games. However, the similarities draw many parallels. 

Moreover, Epic Games is already an active player in the metaverse, and unlike its latest partner, it has not shied from using the term once.

Iger calls the new relationship with the Fortnite creator his company’s “biggest entry ever into the world of video games,” adding that it offers significant opportunities for growth and expansion. “The new immersive universe will unleash their own creativity and experience the Disney stories that they love in groundbreaking new ways,” he said.

Iger said Disney’s new gaming and entertainment universe will feature characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and more, with fans able to play, watch, shop and engage with the content. The two companies have also published a teaser of their partnership on YouTube to announce the deal.

“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,” Iger said in a statement.

The partnership still has some hurdles to overcome including passing customary closing conditions and receiving regulatory approvals.


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