Insights

February 7, 2024

Disney x Epic Games

Electrifying The Fortnite Experience Economy

This week, Disney bought a $1.5B equity stake in Epic Games, the video game developer and publisher known for Fortnite. At the center of the move was Bob Iger’s acknowledgement of the fact that Gen Z and Gen Alpha spend a substantial amount of their free time playing and socializing while gaming, “equal to what they spend on TV and movies,” and that Fortnite is an epicenter of 100M+ gamers per month. 

But their ultimate plan doesn’t just stop at more Disney IP downloadable content (DLC) in Fortnite. In their announcement, they laid out a broader, more ambitious plan to build an entertainment universe in which consumers can “play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and more.”  

What does this mean for brands? Fortnite is no stranger to the integration of popular culture and entertainment IP. From major Hollywood film releases, to popular TV shows, other flagship gaming franchises, to pop culture icons and sports teams, over the past few years, Fortnite’s model to maintain popularity and relevance for the base battle royale game has been built on in-game “seasons” that allow you to unlock your favorite characters, weapons, skins etc. from your favorite franchises: think Indiana Jones using Darth Vader’s lightsaber to fight Peter Griffin and a demogorgon from “Stranger Things.” 

But the Disney announcement continues the innovation trend of recent collaborations like “LEGO Fortnite” (a Minecraft-like creative survival game) and “Fortnite Rift Tour” (the return of Rock Band / Guitar Hero gameplay). Disney and Epic Games sees Fortnite’s potential goes beyond the original core gameplay. Instead, true potential lies in the extension of the experience economy into virtual immersion. Disney dipped their toe into the power of Fortnite when they released an exclusive additional scene of “The Rise of Skywalker” that could only be viewed by logging into Fortnite. 

Now they want to build entire worlds inspired by Disney IP within Fortnite, but let players experience them the way they want to experience them. Not a video game. Not a walled metaverse. But a social platform built on customization, creativity, and a sense of ownership that games crave, all taking place immersed in Disney IP environments. 

At UEG, we work with brands to help build their strategy to effectively navigate and more importantly participate in the worlds of Fortnite and Disney as they continue to become a focal point for crossover culture and an entertainment epicenter for Gen Z and Gen Alpha.

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