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Sony and KIRKBI invest $2 billion in Epic Games to build the kids metaverse

Metaverse VR

Following the news that toy firm Lego and Epic Games are teaming up to build a metaverse for children, Sony and Lego owner KIRKBi have ploughed $1 billion each into the games publisher.

Last week Lego and Epic announced they’d entered into a long-term partnership and intend to build ‘an immersive, creatively inspiring and engaging digital experience for kids of all ages to enjoy together’. There’s nothing to show yet, other than a set of three principles both firms put their name to, but the appearance of $2 billion into Epic’s coffers might change that soon.

“As a creative entertainment company, we are thrilled to invest in Epic to deepen our relationship in the metaverse field, a space where creators and users share their time,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, Chairman, President and CEO, Sony Group Corporation. “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.”

Tim Sweeney, CEO and Founder, Epic Games added: “As we reimagine the future of entertainment and play we need partners who share our vision. We have found this in our partnership with Sony and KIRKBI. 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.”

We noted at the time of the Lego/Epic partnership announcement the distinct lack of details offered. It’s easy to be dismissive of all things metaverse, but even advocates must admit that as a phrase it remains fairly undefined. We’re probably on safe ground imagining some sort of VR enabled multiplayer environment where certainly Lego IP is employed as the foundation of some games. And it might be Epic hasn’t got much further than deciding on that.

What is worth noting is the degree to which an increasing radius of firms are willing to not just pay lip service to the metaverse, but stump up huge wads of cash in order to be in some way get a finger in the pie. Facebook/Meta has famously gone all in – but there is an argument that since it seems to be losing momentum in terms of user engagement (which is what the business model is based on in lieu of users paying Facebook anything), they had better pivot into something for the future.

This is presumably not a situation that really applies to Lego, Sony, and Epic Games – so they must see some solid business returns coming their way in the future by piling money into this project now. Until there is something tangible to look at, those of us analysing things from the outside are not really in a position to say how presciently wise or misguided that investment feels to us.

 

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