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Disney announces Fortnite partnership and ‘entertainment universe’

Disney also purchased a $1.5 billion equity stake in Epic Games

Disney announced a multiyear partnership with Fortnite to create a “persistent” games and entertainment universe in the multiplayer game and beyond. The Burbank, CA, company said in a statement that its new initiative will “interoperate” with Fortnite and “offer a multitude of opportunities for consumers to play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories” from all of Disney’s franchises, including Marvel and Star Wars.

Disney also acquired a $1.5 billion equity stake in Epic Games, giving it an element of control in the company, which also owns and licenses Unreal Engine. Disney uses Unreal in several of its initiatives, including game development – Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, for example – and TV and film production.

The news follows a Bloomberg report in 2023 that said Disney sought to expand its presence in the games industry and suggested Disney CEO Bob Iger faced internal pressure to lead the company into a more profitable future.

Near the end of 2023, Epic Games laid off nearly 1,000 employees. Epic CEO and founder Tim Sweeney cited declining Fortnite engagement at the time as the cause, along with a need to focus on more profitable ventures and a desire to invest more heavily into his vision of a metaverse.

“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 the Fortnite announcement. “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,” Tim Sweeney, Epic Games founder, said. “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.”

Disney released a brief teaser trailer announcing a Disney and Fortnite experience coming “soonish.”