Sony buys $250 million stake in Fortnite creator Epic Games

Sony has made a $250 million investment in Epic Games, the two companies announced on Thursday. The deal means Sony gets a 1.4 percent interest in the game development studio and publisher and gives Epic a valuation of $17.86 billion, reports VentureBeat.

The investment lets the two companies “broaden their collaboration across Sony’s leading portfolio of entertainment assets and technology, and Epic’s social entertainment platform and digital ecosystem to create unique experiences for consumers and creators,” according to a press release.

There’s also a line in the press release that suggests Sony and Epic may want to create more Fortnite-like virtual multimedia experiences, like the hugely popular in-game Travis Scott concert tour: “we share a vision of real-time 3D social experiences leading to a convergence of gaming, film, and music,” reads part of a quote from Epic CEO and founder Tim Sweeney. For instance, Sony has subsidiaries like Sony Pictures and Sony Music that it might want to tie closer to its PlayStation division’s games using Epic’s know-how.

The deal doesn’t mean Epic titles will now be exclusive to Sony consoles — the studio will still be able to publish games on other platforms, Epic confirmed to VentureBeat.

Sony and Epic have worked closely together for years, and Sweeney called Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 5 console a “remarkably balanced device” and heaped praise on its new solid state drive. Epic used a stunning PlayStation 5 demo to show off the capabilities of the next version of its game engine, Unreal Engine 5, back in May. At the time, Sweeney also said Epic had been working closely with Sony on the development of its next-gen console’s storage architecture, saying, “We’ve been working super close with Sony for quite a long time on storage.”

Epic was also instrumental in getting Sony on board with cross-play multiplayer, enabling it for Fortnite in September 2018. Before then, if you had a Fortnite account, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One players could play with each other and access progress and skins across those consoles, but Sony blocked cross-play on PS4. Since then, many more PS4 games have added cross-play multiplayer features.

Epic has a notable outside investor in Tencent, which invested $330 million in 2012 to get a 40 percent stake in the studio. Epic’s valuation has grown significantly since then, fueled in large part by the massive and ongoing success of Fortnite, which earned $400 million in revenue just in April of this year, reports VentureBeat.