Epic Games recently announced an epic new wave of fundraising, notable both for the $US2 billion (around $3 billion) it’s pulled in and for an eye-raising firm present among the leading partners: Sony. The makers of PlayStation VR have invested a cool $US1 billion ($1.35 billion) in Epic to further “the development of new digital fan experiences” and the “metaverse.”
Today’s news comes fresh on the heels of Epic showing off some impressive new tech. Last week, Epic Games hosted a showcase for the release of Unreal 5, the latest iteration of its powerful 3D rendering engine, featuring a number of high-profile developers, including The Coalition (a Microsoft-owned studio best known for recent Gears games) and CD Projekt Red (who’s developing the next Witcher game in Unreal 5). As for stuff you can actually get your hands on today, Unreal 5 was used to create The Matrix Awakens, a tech demo for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S with graphics so real-looking some people were like, “Woah, I can’t tell what’s real or what’s not, man.”
This isn’t the only significant investment Sony has made in Epic. In 2020, Sony invested $US250 million ($347 million) in Epic for reasons that, at least publicly, could only be defined as “a bunch of business buzzwords.” A year later, Sony poured a further $US200 million ($278 million) in for much of the same. Today’s investment, the third to date, is more than twice the prior two — combined.
It’s not totally clear what all this money is for, whether it’s laying the groundwork for eventual PlayStation exclusivity of future games developed by Epic or, as heavily suggested by statements from the CEOs of both companies, more about beefing up Sony’s virtual reality endeavours. (Sony’s PSVR2 is coming…at some point.) Representatives for Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Epic Games, meanwhile, simply redirected Kotaku toward the press release announcing today’s news.
“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,” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said in the release.
“We are thrilled to invest in Epic to deepen our relationship in the metaverse field, a space where creators and users share their time,” Kenichiro Yoshida, chairman, president, and CEO of Sony, said in a press release. “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.”
Sony has been on a bit of a spending spree lately, most notably with its $US3.6 billion ($5 billion) acquisition of Bungie, the makers of Destiny, meant to spearhead a push into live-service games. Last year, Sony picked up Housemarque and Bluepoint, both of whom aren’t known for online multiplayer games but, instead, rather for luxuriously produced single-player PS5 games (Returnal and the Demon’s Souls remake, respectively). And in 2019, Sony paid $US229 million (around $320 million) to bring Insomniac, the studio behind PlayStation-exclusive hits like Ratchet & Clank and Marvel’s Spider-Man, into the fold.