Tech

Epic Games accepts $2 billion investment from Sony and Lego to build the metaverse

In brief: Epic Games remains a controversial fixture of the PC gaming industry, but both its competitors and completely unaffiliated corporations feel it’s going places. A new announcement from Epic CEO Tim Sweeney revealed that the Lego Group’s parent company, KIRKBI, and Sony are planning massive investments in the gaming giant. The funding comes out to $1 billion each, so $2 billion in total.

Even for a massive gaming behemoth like Epic, $2 billion is a lot of money. For reference, Fortnite generated $5.1 billion in revenue during 2020 (the last year such data was publicly available). Obviously, Epic has more sources of income than Fortnite alone, but it’s still one of their biggest cash cows.

Sweeney claims Sony and KIRKBI’s collective investment will allow Epic to “accelerate” its work to build the “metaverse,” the ever-nebulous concept of a shared virtual world inspired by the likes of Ready Player One’s Oasis. Epic’s version of this digital environment will be one where users and creators can work together to “build a community and thrive.”

As for Sony’s interest in Epic, company CEO Kenichiro Yoshida says “deepening” its relationship with Epic in the metaverse field was part of the reason behind its investment. However, Sony also aims to combine its technology with Epic’s game engine expertise to push the development of new digital “fan experiences” in sports and “virtual production initiatives” further, though it’s unclear what those terms mean.

KIRKBI’s investment goal is a little more personal. Company CEO Søren Thorup Sørensen says that KIRKBI is primarily interested in supporting trends that it believes will impact the world “our children will live in,” while also accelerating engagement in the world of digital play. Sørensen is likely referring to the metaverse here — Lego and Epic Games have already announced a long-term partnership focused on making the metaverse a safer place for kids.

Only time will tell how impactful these investments from Sony and Lego will be in the long run. Regardless, it’s clear that neither company is put off by some of Epic’s more recent controversies, such as its failed lawsuit against Apple (which did have a silver lining).

Image credit: Andrew, Xavi Cabrera

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