Walt Disney Co. is acquiring a $1.5 billion equity stake in Fortnite maker Epic Games Inc. as part of a collaboration involving Disney properties like Star Wars, Marvel and Avatar, the companies said Wednesday.
Fans will be able to watch, shop and play with Disney characters within the Fortnite game, according to a statement Wednesday. The deal also involves new titles and a collaboration with the company’s theme parks.
“This marks Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of games and offers significant opportunities for growth and expansion,” Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said in a release.
Disney has had its ups and downs with video games. In 2016, the company shut down much of its game operations after struggling to develop large, successful titles in-house. Now, Disney licenses properties to outside developers and publishers like Electronic Arts Inc. and Sony Group.
Disney and Epic have collaborated for years, including through Disney’s Accelerator program, where company executives mentor smaller businesses. Epic has offered Fortnite players avatars based on Star Wars, Marvel and Indiana Jones characters. Epic’s Unreal Engine software has been used to develop Disney games.
“Disney was one of the first companies to believe in the potential of bringing their worlds together with ours in Fortnite,” Epic’s CEO, Tim Sweeney, said in the statement.
The new project will span several years, the companies said. Epic will develop the experiences internally.
The deal follows other collaborations between Epic and big consumer products companies. In 2022, Kirkbi, the family holding company that controls the Lego Group, invested $1 billion in Epic to build online experiences using its brand. Lego Fortnite, released last year, featured characters in blocky Lego style, and had as many as 2 million people playing shortly after its debut.