Sony has made a $250 million investment in Epic Games, the two companies announced on Thursday, giving Sony a minority interest in the game development studio.
The investment lets the two companies “broaden their collaboration across Sony’s leading portfolio of entertainment assets and technology, and Epic’s social entertainment platform and digital ecosystem to create unique experiences for consumers and creators,” according to a press release.
There’s also a line in the press release that suggests Sony and Epic may want to create more Fortnite-like virtual multimedia experiences: “we share a vision of real-time 3D social experiences leading to a convergence of gaming, film, and music,” reads part of a quote from Epic CEO and founder Tim Sweeney. Sony has subsidiaries like Sony Pictures and Sony Music that it might want to tie closer to its PlayStation division’s games using Epic’s know-how.
The deal doesn’t mean that Epic titles will now be exclusive to Sony consoles — the studio will still be able to publish games on other platforms, Epic confirmed to VentureBeat.
Sony and Epic have worked closely together for years, and Sweeney recently praised the Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 5 console, calling it a “remarkably balanced device.” Epic used a stunning PlayStation 5 demo to show off the capabilities of the next version of its game engine, Unreal Engine 5, in May.
Epic was also instrumental in getting Sony to get on board with cross-play multiplayer, enabling it for Fortnite in September 2018. Before then, if you had a Fortnite account, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One players could play with each other and access progress and skins across those consoles, but Sony blocked cross-play on PS4. Since then, many more PS4 games have added cross-play multiplayer and features.
Epic also has a notable outside investor in Tencent, which invested $330 million to get a 40 percent stake in the studio in 2012. However, Sony likely didn’t get nearly as big of a stake as Tencent did with the deal announced today. Sony and Epic call it a “minority interest,” and Epic’s valuation has grown significantly since 2012 (fueled in large part by the massive and ongoing success of Fortnite, which earned $400 million in revenue in just in April, reports VentureBeat). Even Sony and Tencent combined probably won’t have majority control in the company after this deal.