BELLEVUE, Wash. — The Walt Disney Co. announced Wednesday it will take a $1.5 billion stake in Epic Games, investing in its already growing partnership in film, TV and video games.
Disney and Epic Games have already collaborated on several projects, including Fortnite, The Mandalorian and park attractions. Fortnite seasons have included Marvel and Star Wars. Fortnite and Marvel’s 2020 “Nexus War with Galactus” reportedly drew more than 15.3 million concurrent players.
“This marks Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of games and offers significant opportunities for growth and expansion,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.
Epic Games, headquartered in North Carolina, said in a statement that the new partnership will be powered by the Unreal Engine, which has strong ties to western Washington.
Epic Games first opened a studio in western Washington in 2012 to help develop Unreal Engine 4, a game engine developers have used to make some of the industry’s most popular titles, including Fortnite.
The Unreal Engine isn’t just used to create video games but has also been used in animation and production in film and TV. Disney+’s The Mandalorian used the Unreal Engine to power “the volume,” which is a stage surrounded by massive LED walls that display digital sets.
According to Disney, the Unreal Engine has also created more than 15 Disney Parks attractions like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
“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,” said Epic Games CEO and Founder Tim Sweeney.
Epic Games’ regional connection grew in 2021 after it acquired Kirkland-based software developer RAD Game Tools.
Epic Games laid off around 16% of its workforce in September, including 39 positions in Bellevue.
According to an Entertainment Software Association study, the video game industry had a $11.6 billion economic impact in Washington state in 2019, the second largest in the nation.