Sony PlayStation: 1 billion invested in Epic (Fortnite), soon the takeover?

business news Sony PlayStation: 1 billion invested in Epic (Fortnite), soon the takeover?

It is certain, in 2022, Sony decided to align the currency. After the takeover of Bungie and Haven recently, the Japanese company released a billion to support the activity of Epic Games, father of Fortnite and the Unreal Engine. Quite a sum, of course, but which translates what intentions? Here is our opinion.

Sony PlayStation (Logo)

To use the name of a famous movie, modifying it slightly: “Billion Dollar Baby”. A billion dollars is the very large sum that Sony has just invested in Epic Games, company behind the famous Fortnite battle royale and the Unreal Engine. The firm thus closes a fundraising of two billion dollars with the aim “to build the metaverse and to support its continued growth”, in which Kirkbi (LEGO) also participated to the tune 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 communicated Kenichiro Yoshida, CEO of Sony Group – the global entity, not just the one dedicated to PlayStation. “We are also confident that the expertise of Epic Games (…) 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 on its head? Keep in mind that we are talking about Sony in general, not just its “Interactive Entertainment” division. devoted to its PlayStation brand. In recent months, the Japanese firm has been increasingly present in the field of interactive digital experiences (probably as a result of the health crisis). In early 2022, for example, it signed a amazing partnership with the famous club Manchester City. Its objective: to create an online space where fans can interact with the team within a “metaverse”, modeling the Etihad football stadium.

In the past, Sony was already talking about developing digital concerts thanks to virtual reality, as part of the “Lindbergh” project. And who is knowledgeable about it? Yes, Epic Games, with its now unmissable musical events in Fortnite (Travis Scott, Aya Nakamura, etc.). Before even talking about a takeover, Sony’s investment first materializes a exchange of good practices between the Japanese company and Epic Games. “As we reimagine the future of entertainment, we need partners who share our vision. We found that (…) with Sony” comments TIm Sweeney, CEO of Epic. PlayStation’s father had already given him $250 million in 2020, then a second $200 million the following year. As a result, the two companies support each other, as for the presentation of the Unreal Engine 5 on PS5, in 2020.

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

Sony PlayStation: 1 billion invested in Epic (Fortnite), soon the takeover?Sony PlayStation: 1 billion invested in Epic (Fortnite), soon the takeover?

Together

On a smaller scale, this even more concrete agreement will therefore 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 their approach to future multiplayer-focused PS4 and PS5 games. An “editorial line” that we do not necessarily associate with the company, but which nevertheless takes shape recently, especially with the takeover of the Haven studio directed by Jade Raymond. The team is working on “a systemic, scalable triple-A (…) that will entertain and engage players for years to come,” says the PlayStation-Blog. A future exclusivity that looks like a real game service, a genre for which Jim Ryan, CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, notes the importance, in a recent interview. The man nevertheless reassures: “We will continue to create narrative single-player games”.

Again, not complicated to draw the parallel between Epic and this project. Fortnite, the company’s true goose, has been a near-unrivaled example of engagement and following for the past five years. That being said, can we imagine a takeover of Epic Games by Sony? This outcome seems unlikely. To date, CEO Tim Sweeney owns over 50% of the shares. As the majority, he has the last word. Then there is the Chinese Tencent (40% at the latest news) while Sony is still – obviously – around 2%. Tim Sweeney’s vision and leadership are highly endorsed. Few companies have dared challenge the monopoly of Google and Apple on their own turf, even going to court against the Apple brand. But in a world where Activision-Blizzard has been acquired by Microsoft, after all, anything is possible.

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Sony PlayStation: 1 billion invested in Epic (Fortnite), soon the takeover?

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