Sony and Epic have been working closely together on development of both the PlayStation 5 console and the Unreal Engine 5, but Sony has now invested money into that partnership. A report indicates that Sony has invested $250 million into Epic Games for a minority stake in the company—1.4% according to GamesBeat, which values Epic at $17.86 billion. It’s important to note that this is not a controlling share. Sony has not purchased or acquired Epic Games, but this does cement a firm partnership between the two companies leading into the next generation of consoles.
Back in May, Epic Games first showed off the Unreal Engine 5 running entirely on a PS5 console. Since then, the company has praised Sony and the PS5’s unique architecture numerous times over. With this deal in place, Sony and Epic will continue to collaborate on engine improvements, systems design, the the “digital ecosystems” that Epic is creating with Fortnite’s immense “metaverse”-like social space and the Epic Games Store as a major PC distribution platform.
Epic Games is not becoming a PlayStation-exclusive developer. Fortnite and Unreal Engine will still be coming to and supported on other platforms, including Xbox Series X, but it does give Sony leverage to work directly with Epic a lot more. VentureBeat notes that it’s not entirely clear yet what distinct advantage Sony is getting from this investment deal. Comments from Epic and Sony regarding the partnership discuss the “intersection of creativity and technology and they share a vision of real-time 3D social experiences that will lead to a convergence of gaming, film, and music.”
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney also said the partnership will allow them to make a “more open and accessible digital ecosystem for all consumers and content creators,” a surprising shift from Sony’s previous stance on remaining a more closed platform. It’s only recently that the company has started to ease up and allow cross-platform play and more open ecosystems.
It’s expected that Epic will continue to use the investment in pursuit of the creation of a “Metaverse,” or an interconnected virtual world where players can get multiple experiences. Fortnite has already been pushing the capabilities of this idea. It might seem like ambitious science fiction, but for some perspective on just how big Epic Games has grown, when Tencent invested $330 million into the company back in 2012, that was for a 40% share. Sony’s $250 million investment is now just 1.4%.
This deal is undoubtedly an powerful partnership that will set the course for the next-generation of consoles and the PS5 in particular. Expect a lot more to come of this as we approach the holiday 2020 release of the console and beyond.