Disney+Epic Game = Metaverse?

Disney+Epic Game = Metaverse?

Stories around the futuristic metaverse got a fresh impetus following the announcement from Disney that it was partnering with Epic Games to design an entertainment universe that offers games involving Disney characters and Fortnite’s social gaming expertise. The entertainment company also paid $1.5 billion to acquire a chunk of Epic Games. 

In a day and age where the hype over such deals is often followed by a period of languid silence, metaverse is yet another such story that saw hyper statement followed by inertia. However, the latest announcement has buoyed up at least two communities – gaming geeks who are eager to get their hands on Disney characters and their developers. 

According to the two players, this would be a multi-year project that would use Epic’s technology, Fortnite’s social gaming expertise and Disney’s vast IP around its characters. Now imagine playing games with these characters as well as having the option of buying Disney-themed stuff on the go! 

The companies shared some images as well a video that may not be a reality right now but depicts what could be in the future (Watch the video here). The future is defined as a series of colorful islands floating in space with highways running in-between and a magic castle coming up. We wonder if this is a symbolic representation of where the two companies plan to take their metaverse into. 

What does the deal mean for the players?

Over the years, Fortnite has made a name in the gaming industry for its goofy games built around a shrinking virtual island where shooters battle each other till the last person standing. It offers custom skins that can be bought via Epic’s virtual swag shop too. In its early days, Fortnite was popular with viewers on Twitch. 

Last November, the game saw a resurgence with 100 million people logging in but somewhere down the line Fortnite remained a battle royale, though Epic hardly ever shared its ambitions around the brand and the sport. However, of late, Epic has expanded its marquee title beyond skins and games and into something of a platform with a marketplace. 

In fact, to the discerning, the ambitions from Epic Games was clear from the seasonal events such as concerts, user-generated sandbox worlds etc. became popular. Last December, the company launched three new games within the game – Lego Fortnite, Fortnite Festival and Rocket Racing – each in a league of its own. 

How the Disney connect helps all the players

And it’s at this time that reports of Disney’s interest in Epic Games came about. It is not as though the two do not have an earlier connection, for Disney had invested in Epic via its accelerator program back in 2017 and also licensed its Market and Star Wars characters to Fortnite in the form of skins. 

But, the $1.5 billion investment put things into an entirely different orbit. While Fortnite needs a metaverse, so does Disney, given the massive entertainment IP that it possesses but lacks the expertise to monetise it via gaming innovations. Epic Games couldn’t be a better partner, given its expertise in online multiplayer gaming across virtual worlds.

No wonder that Disney CEO Bob Iger termed the Epic deal as epic in the world of entertainment joining hands with gaming in such a big way. “Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of games,” it definitely is but more importantly the metaverse they could end up building via interoperability with Fortnite is just too good to be true.

Not to mention the gains Disney would make by getting access to 100 million of Fortnite’s players. Of course, the other party benefits too as it could leapfrog them beyond Roblox’s numbers that could be in the region of 200 million and counting. Of course, Disney also can expand its reach beyond battle royale. 

The future is going virtual and that’s reality 

In a parallel universe, we have the likes of Facebook that renamed itself Meta to signify itself as the metaverse but focused instead on hardware of the VR hardware that resulted in the company ending up with a solution and seeking its problem! Apple too may have boarded the wrong bus by focusing on Vision Pro without the vision to create the metaverse. 

Maybe, Disney and its Epic Games deal could be the start of something bigger that others such as Meta and Apple could use. But, let’s wait and see what develops out of this mega deal or whether once again the hype fails to match up to the reality – or the virtual reality! 


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