Sony Invests $250 Million in Unreal Engine Maker Epic Games
An attendee performs a ‘floss’ dance on the Epic Games Inc. Fortnite video game stand at the Gamescom gaming industry event in Cologne, Germany. (Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)

Sony Invests $250 Million in Unreal Engine Maker Epic Games

Sony Corp. invested $250 million in Epic Games Inc., owner of the popular video game Fortnite and the widely used Unreal Engine for game development.

The PlayStation maker and Fortnite proprietor didn’t disclose the new value of the games company. Bloomberg News first reported last month that Epic was close to securing funding at a valuation of about $17 billion.

The Unreal Engine is used to create many popular game franchises, such as Borderlands and Gears of War, along with Epic’s own Fortnite. The fifth iteration, Unreal Engine 5, made its debut this summer and was demonstrated on PlayStation 5 hardware, signaling the close collaboration between Epic and Sony.

Sony is preparing for the introduction later this year of the PlayStation 5, its first major game console release since 2013. Epic is primarily focused on games, but Tim Sweeney, its chief executive officer, said in a statement Thursday that he shares a vision with Sony of a “convergence of gaming, film and music.”

Sony’s shares were up as much as 3.2% in Tokyo on Friday, approaching a 19-year high for the company.

“Tim Sweeney has a track record of being able to sense which way the wind is blowing in gaming and he is tipping his hand that it’s blowing Sony’s way,” according to Mio Kato, an analyst at LightStream Research. The Unreal Engine is also used in the making of the Netflix Inc. series “The Mandalorian,” so it “blends nicely” with Sony’s interests in TV and movie production as well as gaming, Kato wrote in a note on Smartkarma.

Fortnite has been an influential force in games and culture over the last few years. The game had more than 350 million players as of April, benefiting from the influx of people spending more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Quarantine has also been a boon for Houseparty, another Epic property, which allows people to chat over video and play games with their friends. Some 50 million users signed up to use the app in March and April.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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