Disney Dives Into the Metaverse with $1.5 Billion Epic Games Investment


The Walt Disney Company recently announced a monster $1.5 billion investment into leading game developer Epic Games, the masterminds behind the global phenomenon Fortnite.

This partnership aims to create an all-new game and expansive virtual Disney universe packed with beloved characters and franchises.

But what exactly does this mean?

And what magic can we expect from the Disney metaverse?

Let’s break it down.

A Whole New Disney World

While details remain scarce, the announcement states it will be a persistent online space for users to “play, watch, shop and engage” with Disney IPs like Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Avatar.

An early concept art shows a sprawling island map with different franchise-themed areas.

disney map

Fans could explore alien planets alongside Buzz Lightyear or web sling across a Marvel city as Spider-Man.

It’s like Disney World meets the OASIS from Ready Player One.

The ultimate goal is to create a one-stop shop for Disney fans to play games, interact with characters, watch movies, and shop merchandise.

And with Fortnite’s record-breaking userbase, the Disney metaverse could become the world’s biggest virtual theme park.

Why Does Disney Want Its Own Metaverse?

Disney likely sees major revenue potential as virtual worlds become more mainstream.

Research firm Gartner forecasts that 25% of people will spend at least one hour daily in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, or entertainment by 2026.

A customized Disney metaverse gives the company direct access to fans without intermediaries.

Users may purchase virtual Disney products, attend exclusive virtual meet-and-greets with characters, or access theme park attractions from home.

It also allows Disney to experiment with new storytelling formats.

For example, an episodic Star Wars adventure where users influence the narrative through their actions. Or a game set in Monstropolis from Monsters Inc.

The Epic Games Partnership Makes Sense

Epic Games pioneered many metaverse features in Fortnite before the concept gained mainstream attention.

It hosts virtual concerts, movie trailers, and many superheroes.

Fortnite alone generates billions in revenue annually.

Epic’s Unreal Engine also powers cutting-edge 3D experiences.

If any company can make an engaging, profitable Disney metaverse, Epic can.

This isn’t Epic’s first metaverse partnership either.

Lego and Sony invested around $1 billion in a family-friendly metaverse built with Epic back in 2021.

Disney’s IP naturally suits a similar audience.

When Can Fans Explore This Disney Metaverse?

While Epic has the technical expertise, building a cohesive Disney metaverse with multiple intricately detailed worlds could take years.

However, individual lands or experiences may launch progressively over the next few years.

We’ll likely see smaller-scale tests first before an interconnected metaverse.

Either way, this marks an exciting new frontier for Disney.

And a validation of Epic Games’ bold vision for the future of entertainment.

The virtual Magic Kingdom might still be far off, but that won’t stop fans dreaming of the possibilities.

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