Epic Games Raises $2B for Metaverse Development
Epic Games has raised $2 billion in a funding round split between Sony and Lego parent firm KIRKBI to further develop its metaverse virtual world strategy. The funding comes just after Lego and Epic unveiled plans to build a kid-friendly metaverse and ups Epic’s valuation to $31.5 billion.
The metaverse has been a central component of Epic’s plans for a while now, especially after releasing its MetaHuman Creator program last year. The deal with Lego to build a metaverse of kid-friendly virtual worlds that are both fun and safe takes advantage of Epic and Lego’s gaming and digital experience background. But, that won’t impact plans for more universal metaverse projects like those Sony is interested in pursuing. The new money makes for a significant rise in Epic’s funding, a total of about $5 billion. Sony and KIRKBI are each contributing $1 billion to the new fund.
“As a creative entertainment company, we are thrilled to invest in Epic to deepen our relationship in the metaverse field, a space where creators and users share their time.” Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said. “We are also confident that Epic’s expertise, including their powerful game engine, combined with Sony’s technologies, will accelerate our various efforts such as the development of new digital fan experiences in sports and our virtual production initiatives.”
The size of the investment is notable but absolutely fits with the speed of metaverse development that Epic wants and that its rivals are already pursuing. Rivals like Korean video game developer Krafton have their own hyperrealistic virtual humans to use in the metaverse. And $2 billion is a drop in the bucket for megacorporations like Meta or Nvidia. On the consumer-facing side, Disney unveiled its metaverse strategy earlier this year when it appointed veteran media executive Mike White as senior vice president of next-generation storytelling and consumer experiences. He is overseeing the overall project of connecting digital environments and AI-powered characters for the entertainment giant. Former Disney CEO and Chairman Bob Iger recently invested and joined the metaverse avatar platform Genies’ board. Speeding Epic’s metaverse creation and upgrading plans with the new cash may be how Epic stays competitive amidst the mushrooming competition.
“As we reimagine the future of entertainment and play we need partners who share our vision. We have found this in our partnership with Sony and KIRKBI,” Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said. “This investment will accelerate our work to build the metaverse and create spaces where players can have fun with friends, brands can build creative and immersive experiences and creators can build a community and thrive.”