Sony PlayStation: One billion invested in Epic (Fortnite), acquisition soon?

business news Sony PlayStation: One billion invested in Epic (Fortnite), acquisition soon?

True, in 2022, Sony decided to align the coin. Following the acquisition of Bungie and Haven recently, the Japanese company released a billion to support the activity of Epic Games, father of Fortnite and Unreal Engine. Quite a sum, of course, but what intentions are translated? Here is our opinion.

Sony PlayStation (logo)

To use the name of a famous movie, slightly modifying it: “Billion Dollar Baby”. A billion dollars is very large sum that Sony has just invested in Epic Gamescompany behind the famous battle royale Fortnite and the Unreal Engine. The firm thus closes a fundraising of two billion dollars with the aim of “building the metaverse and supporting its continued growth”, in which Kirkbi (LEGO) also participated for a sum of one billion. “As a creative entertainment company, we are excited to invest in Epic to deepen our relationship in the metaverse space.” explain in a release Kenichiro Yoshida, CEO of Sony Group, the global entity, not just the one dedicated to PlayStation. “We are also confident that the Epic Games experience … will accelerate our various efforts, such as the development of new digital experiences for sports fans and our virtual project initiatives.”.

“Metavers”, “digital experiences for sports fans”? Has Sony fallen headlong? Keep in mind that we’re talking about Sony in general, not just its “Interactive Entertainment” division dedicated to its PlayStation brand. In recent months, the Japanese firm has been increasingly present in the field of interactive digital experiences (probably as a consequence of the health crisis). In early 2022, for example, it signed a amazing camaraderie with the famous club Manchester City. His goal: to create an online space where fans can interact with the team within a “metaverse”, modeling the Etihad football stadium.

In the past, Sony already talked about developing digital concerts thanks to virtual reality, as part of the “Lindbergh” project. And who knows about it? Yes, Epic Games, with their now unmissable music events in Fortnite (Travis Scott, Aya Nakamura, etc.). Before even talking about an acquisition, Sony’s investment first materializes a exchange of good practices between the Japanese company and Epic Games. “As we reinvent the future of entertainment, we need partners who share our vision. We found that (…) with Sony” comments TIm Sweeney, CEO of Epic. The father of PlayStation had already given him $250 million in 2020, then another $200 million the following year. As a result, the two companies are mutually supportive, as far as the introduction of Unreal Engine 5 on PS5, in 2020.

Right: VR virtual concert project (Sony); Left: Travis Scott concert (Fortnite)

Sony PlayStation: One billion invested in Epic (Fortnite), acquisition soon?Sony PlayStation: One billion invested in Epic (Fortnite), acquisition soon?

hand in hand

On a smaller scale, this even more concrete deal will also benefit PlayStation. Not necessarily for a metaverse, a term that we find little – if at all – in the mouth of Sony’s video game branch. but rather for his approach to future multiplayer-focused PS4 and PS5 games. An “editorial line” that we do not necessarily associate with the company, but which has nevertheless taken shape recently, especially with the takeover of the Haven studio led by Jade Raymond. The team is working on “a systemic and scalable triple-A (…) that will entertain and engage players for years to come,” she says. PlayStation Blog. A future exclusivity that looks like a real game service, a genre for which Jim Ryan, CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, points out the importance, in a recent interview. The man, however, reassures: “We will continue to create narrative single-player games”.

Again, it is not difficult to draw the parallel between Epic and this project. Fortnite, the real goose of the company, is a example almost unmatched in terms of engagement and follow through over five years. Having said that, Can we imagine an acquisition of Epic Games by Sony? This result seems unlikely. To date, CEO Tim Sweeney owns more than 50% of the shares. Like most, he has the last word. Then there is the Chinese Tencent (40% in the latest news) while Sony is still obviously around 2%. Tim Sweeney’s vision and leadership are widely supported. Few companies have dared to challenge Google and Apple’s monopoly on their own turf, even going to court against the Apple brand. But in a world where Microsoft has acquired Activision-Blizzard, anything is possible after all.

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