We believe there is huge potential for them to develop life-long skills such as creativity, collaboration and communication through digital experiences. But we have a responsibility to make them safe, inspiring and beneficial for all.”
As Epic Games concentrates on building out the metaverse, retail brands are eager to experiment with the concept, too. Last month, brands like DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger and Esteé Lauder participated in Metaverse Fashion Week hosted by the virtual social platform Decentraland. Meanwhile, brands and retailers like Forever 21, Nike and Gucci are experimenting with Roblox, which is popular among tweens.
However, it’s unclear exactly how brands should engage with the metaverse and whether it’s guaranteed to bring in younger consumers.
Epic Games has raised $2 billion from Lego owner Kirkbi Invest and Sony as the trio eyes opportunities to build virtual experiences that will lay groundwork for the metaverse.
The deal increased Epic’s post-money valuation to $31.5 billion, indicating less than $1 billion in organic valuation growth since April 2021—a slower pace relative to the company’s reported valuation growth in prior years.
Late-stage valuations have come under pressure in recent months because of public stock declines. The gaming industry is also contending with less rapid growth than it saw during the early days of the pandemic.
Sweeneysaid at a conference in Seoulthat the metaverse “has the potential to become a multi-trillion-dollar part of the world economy.” He also said that it shouldn’t be owned by a single company, echoingEpic’s legal battles against Apple and Googlefor their respective closed, “walled garden” mobile app ecosystems.“The metaverse is a term like the internet,” said Sweeney in Seoul. “No company can own it.”That kind of open ethos aligns well with that of crypto builders, such as Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of leading metaverse investor Animoca Brands.Siu toldDecryptlast fall that he views Facebook and Tencent as “threats” to an open, interoperable metaverse, and that Animoca is “kind of in a hurry” to bring the metaverse to life before tech giants take over.That said, the free-to-play game Fortnite—which some view as a proto-metaverse—currently has its own closed ecosystem.
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Sony and the company that controls Lego have both invested $1 billion in Epic Games, the Fortnite maker announced on Monday. The news comes four days after Epic and Lego said they were teaming up to build a family-friendly metaverse.
Kirkbi, which is the holding company that owns The Lego Group, is putting the money into Epic, so this is not a direct funding of that metaverse project.
Sony’s investment triples its stake in Epic Games, on top of the $250 million it put into Epic in 2020 and the $200 million it added a year later.
“We are also confident that Epic’s expertise, including their powerful game engine, combined with Sony’s technologies, will accelerate our various efforts,” Kenichiro Yoshido, Sony’s chief executive, said in a statement provided by Epic.
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developer Bungie earlier this year.
“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 a statement.
Right now, the metaverse mostly remains an idea in the mind of tech CEOs, though Fortnite remains arguably the closest thing we currently have to that vision through virtual events like concerts and a grab bag of pop culture tie-ins including everything from Marvel characters and professional athletes to, most recently, the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
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Though Epic’s not using crypto in our games, we welcome innovation in the areas of technology and finance.”Sweeney spoke highly of blockchain networks in 2017,tellingVentureBeatthat there are “incredibly powerful ideas” brewing in the space, and that he was keen on the potential ofEthereumas a smart contract platform. However, hetoldDecryptin 2019that he was done speaking about blockchain, given the rampant speculation that followed earlier comments.“We’ve been looking at the kinds of publicity pickup that have occurred from our past (non) announcements on cryptocurrency and decided it would be best to not do further interviews,” he said at the time.
Epic’s “metaverse” has largely taken place within Fortnite, where third-party marketers have regularly collaborated on themed skins and other virtual items, or staged virtual events like trailer premieres or concerts.
Epic chief executive and founder Tim Sweeney said in the same statement that “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.”
Monday’s statement said Epic Games is now valued at $31.5 billion, up another $3 billion from last year’s buy-ins.
Sony and Kirkbi, the parent company of the Lego Group, with both companies investing $1 billion each. This latest funding round gives Epic a money equity valuation of $31.5 billion.
Epic says the new funding will go toward its efforts to build its kid-friendly metaverse and will also support its continued growth.
Today’s announcement comes a few days after Epic revealed that it’s partnering with Lego to build a metaverse aimed at kids. The companies say they are going to shape the future of the metaverse to make it safe and fun for children while building an immersive digital experience for kids to play in.
With this new funding, Epic says all three companies aim to create new social entertainment that explores the connection between digital and physical worlds.
“As we reimagine the future of entertainment and play we need partners who share our vision.
In October, after Steam banned the sale of games featuring NFTs or cryptocurrency integrations, the Epic Games Store announced that itwould welcome such gamesthat follow its regulations.“Epic Games Store will welcome games that make use of blockchain tech provided they follow the relevant laws, disclose their terms, and are age-rated by an appropriate group,” Sweeneytweeted.
We have found this in our partnership with Sony and Kirkbi,” Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said in a statement. “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.”
Earlier this month, The Lego Group partnered with Epic Games to develop a safe metaverse environment for children. The space will cater to kids of all ages and gives Lego an entry to the metaverse without relying on platforms popular among older users like Decentraland and Roblox.
“Kids enjoy playing in digital and physical worlds and move seamlessly between the two,” Niels Christiansen, CEO of The Lego Group, said in a statement at the time of the announcement.