Bob Iger Plans to Leverage Epic Games Deal to Build Disney Universe That Lives ‘Side by Side to Fortnite’

“We were really impressed with what Epic had been able to accomplish with ‘Fortnite,’” the CEO said at Tuesday’s Morgan Stanley conference

bob iger
Bob Iger (Getty Images)

Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the entertainment giant will leverage its $1.5 billion deal with Epic Games to build a “Disney universe” akin to a metaverse where consumers can engage with Disney IP, including from Marvel, Pixar and “Star Wars.”

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Iger said the company did the deal last month because it was underrepresented in video games and that he was stunned to learn that Gen Z and Gen Alpha kids were spending about 30% of their screen time playing games. Epic is the studio behind the massively popular free-to-play cross-platform game “Fortnite.”

“We had a decent licensing business, the Spider-Man game and Sony, one of the most successful games of 2023,” Iger said. “I thought we could do more. And as we studied it, we were really impressed with what Epic had been able to accomplish with ‘Fortnite.’”

Under the deal with Epic, Disney will have a commercial agreement to build a “Disney universe” where consumers can create their own games from the studio’s IP and play games Disney and Epic create. Players can also buy digital goods. Epic, Iger said, will build the ‘verse at its expense. In exchange, Disney agreed to take an equity position in Epic.

Disney x Epic Games
Disney x Epic Games

The new universe is expected to launch “in a few years,” Iger said.

“We’re calling this a universe, just so that we don’t use the word metaverse,” he said. “But this will be a deep, rich, fully immersive, engaging experience for consumers. Not only does it speak to how young consumers are spending their time, but it speaks to basically how much more we can leverage our IP in a completely different medium.”

Disney already has a presence in Fortnite, but with their Epic deal, “There will be an interoperability to it.” If consumers “buy digital goods in one, you can port it into the other and so on.”

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