Did Disney Buy Fortnite or Epic Games?

Published: February 9, 2024

There seems to be a bit of confusion after yesterday’s announcements from Disney. People are now wondering if Disney bought Epic Games or Fortnite after they announced a new Disney world coming to the game.

The answer is yes and no.

Disney did not buy Epic Games and Fortnite; however, they are purchasing a large stake in the company, $1.5 billion. This makes them part owner and not the sole owner. Hence my “yes and no” answer. It’s not all done yet as it is still subject to regulations approvals.

Disney and Epic will be creating a new Disney-themed area to be in Fortnite using Unreal Engine. This area will be playable in conjunction with the normal Fortnite game and not a replacement for it. 

In addition to being a world-class games experience and interoperating with Fortnite, the new persistent universe will offer a multitude of opportunities for consumers to play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and more. Players, gamers and fans will be able to create their own stories and experiences, express their fandom in a distinctly Disney way, and share content with each other in ways that they love. This will all be powered by Unreal Engine.

What is a bit concerning is Disney CEO Bob Iger’s comments about seeing the data that Gen Z (those born 1995-2010), Gen Alpha (2010-current), and Millenials (1980-1995) spend more time gaming than watching television and that is why Disney wants to join Epic Games for this expansion. Iger also mentioned in-game shopping and merchandising multiple times. But all of Gen Alpha and Some of Gen Z are minors. 

Epic Games has had to pay legal settlements after the FTC went after them for “using digital dark patterns to bill Fortnite players for unintentional in-game purchases.”

The FTC went after Epic for $278 million, alleging that the game company collected “personal information from kids under 13 without parental consent and by enabling voice and text chat by default – an unfair practice that put kids and teens in risky contact with strangers.”  They also went for a $245 million settlement over “using digital dark patterns to bill Fortnite players for unintentional in-game purchases.

Ultimately Epic reached a settlement for these infractions. 

Epic has reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In it, Epic will pay $245 million USD to the FTC to resolve concerns related to past designs of the Fortnite item shop and refund systems in Fortnite, which the FTC will use to distribute to Epic customers at their discretion. Epic will also pay $275 million USD to the FTC to resolve concerns related to children’s privacy in Fortnite.

So it has been resolved, but parents could be questioning Disney’s motives, given Bob Iger’s push for digital shopping if Disney teams up with Epic. 

People are already comparing Iger to the character of Nolan Sorrento, who was the villain and CEO of IOI Games in “Ready Player One.”

Personally, I think it’s a good move from a company standpoint, and given the reach with 15.3 million concurrent players, the reach is worth the investment. As a parent, I am concerned about the push for digital shopping, given Iger’s focus on Gen Z and Gen Alpha players. While most Gen Z and Millennial players are adults, all Gen Alpha and some Gen Z players are not. Disney will need to tread carefully with this one. 

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

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