Epic Games, the company known for its hit battle royale title Fortnite and the Unreal Engine game engine, has managed to attract a stunning $1 billion in its quest to establish a metaverse of linked games and services.
The new funding round, which was announced early last week, includes an additional $200 million strategic investment from Sony Group Corporation. This comes nearly a year after Sony initially invested $250 million in Epic in a pursuit to establish “real-time 3D social experiences leading to a convergence of gaming, film, and music,” Epic Game’s CEO & founder Tim Sweeney said in July.
The investment is said to “accelerate our work around building connected social experiences in Fortnite, Rocket League and Fall Guys, while empowering game developers and creators with Unreal Engine, Epic Online Services and the Epic Games Store,” Sweeney says.
Other investment partners include Appaloosa, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, GIC, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Park West, KKR, AllianceBernstein, Altimeter, Franklin Templeton and Luxor Capital.
Epic’s massively popular title, Fortnite, has essentially transitioned from game to ‘social experience’ throughout the years with the addition of non-gaming content such as virtual concerts and film debuts. Linking those top Unreal Engine-driven games together into an overarching metaverse could spell even greater success for both companies, as they drive greater engagement—and inevitably also greater microtransaction sales.
The bulk of Epic’s success has undoubtedly been in flatscreen gaming, so it’s unlikely we’ll see a VR-specific metaverse from the company in the near term. Still, Unreal Engine is the second most popular game engine for building VR content, and has powered PSVR games such as Farpoint, Moss, Firewall: Zero Hour, and many more. Creating an early metaverse of flatscreen games, and more importantly building out the underlying architecture within Unreal Engine itself, could be a big step in creating a large-scale, VR metaverse as the companies inevitably push the confines of it to include immersive headsets.