The Walt Disney Company + Epic Games bring the metaverse several steps closer to reality. Disney joins Sony, LEGO, and Tencent, as one of the major owners and creative partners in Epic. They bring a vast library of beloved content to the Unreal Engine for people to “play, watch, create, and shop.”

Disney and Epic both made essentially the same press release on their websites.

“The Walt Disney Company and Epic Games will collaborate on an all-new games and entertainment universe that will further expand the reach of beloved Disney stories and experiences. Disney will also invest $1.5 billion to acquire an equity stake in Epic Games alongside the multiyear project. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.”

“In addition to being a world-class games experience and interoperating with Fortnite, the new persistent universe will offer a multitude of opportunities for consumers to play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and more. Players, gamers and fans will be able to create their own stories and experiences, express their fandom in a distinctly Disney way, and share content with each other in ways that they love. This will all be powered by Unreal Engine.”

Something you won’t see is Disney characters with guns

Disney began co-creating video games back in 1981 and have had their own game development division for years. But they found their greatest success by licensing Disney content, like Spider-Man with Insomniac, or Kingdom Hearts with Square Enix. In fact Disney characters have been in 9 different games that sold over $1B. (The rights to Spider-Man are worth a story of it’s own, but in this case it’s Disney, although Epic partnered with the other Spidey owner Sony, so either way he made it to Fornite in 2021)

Disney began working with Epic in 2017 when Epic was accepted to the Accelerator Program “to help them develop new entertainment experiences and products.” This led to the amazing ILM StageCraft™, now called “the Volume.” This LED environment is controlled by a special version on Unreal Engine 5 – and is mostly why The Mandalorian looks so real and fantastic.

The Volume blends real and CG, like AR or the metaverse
Tim Sweeney of Epic Games

Disney haven’t bought Epic, or a controlling share. The company is still majority owned and controlled by the founder, Tim Sweeney. He co-created the Unreal Engine with a global team in the 90s. He and his team gathered a fresh ~$9B in investments in the last 5 years, and literally have multiple universes of proven characters and stories on hand to use. And physical as well as digital products to sell.

At 2023’s Game Developer Conference (GDC), Epic released software tools that allow users to create new Islands in Fortnite. And a non-ad-based system for rewarding creators based on amount of engagement. All still in beta, yet users say it all works and have made tutorials on YouTube for UEFN(Unreal Engine Fort Nite). Together, this looks like the metaverse is becoming more real every day. Like we said here, the metaverse is happening. It’s up to us to make it good.


David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.