Sony has made a $250 million investment to acquire a minority stake in Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite and the Unreal Engine used increasingly in Hollywood production.
Said Epic founder/CEO Tim Sweeney in a released statement: “Sony and Epic have both built businesses at the intersection of creativity and technology, and we share a vision of real-time 3D social experiences leading to a convergence of gaming, film, and music. Together we strive to build an even more open and accessible digital ecosystem for all consumers and content creators alike.”
Kenichiro Yoshida, chairman, president and CEO of Sony, whose Playstation 5 is set to be released later this year, added in a statement, “Epic’s powerful technology in areas such as graphics places them at the forefront of game engine development with Unreal Engine and other innovations. There’s no better example of this than the revolutionary entertainment experience, Fortnite. Through our investment, we will explore opportunities for further collaboration with Epic to delight and bring value to consumers and the industry at large, not only in games, but also across the rapidly evolving digital entertainment landscape.”
While the companies didn’t reveal specific plans on how they will collaborate, Epic’s Unreal real-time gaming engine is growing in use in Hollywood’s animation, VFX and production communities. Sony Innovation Studios in Los Angeles has been developing virtual production capabilities, which were prominently featured last January in the company’s CES exhibition area. Unreal has enabled numerous virtual productions, such as Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian. Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures’ Imageworks VFX unit might also benefit from a closer relationship with Epic as they continue to evolve their production pipelines.
Epic Games’ free-to-play battle royale game Fortnite has proved to be a leading media platform since its launch in 2017. The game has topped 350 million registered users and holds regular in-game events such as screenings of Christopher Nolan films and the trailer for his new movie Tenet, as well as a virtual performance from artist Travis Scott that drew more than 12 million concurrent viewers.