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Mobile Mavens on the big Disney deal with Epic Games | Pocket Gamer.biz

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Mobile Mavens on the big Disney deal with Epic Games | Pocket Gamer.biz

Last month, news broke that Disney had invested a massive $1.5 billion to enter a partnership with Epic Games. The pair are no strangers to collaborations, but this marks a significant milestone in their expanding relationship.

The original announcement noted a ‘games and entertainment universe’, but what exactly could that entail, and what can we expect to see from such a partnership? We spoke to our Mavens to get their thoughts on what the deal means and what the future may hold.

Here’s what they had to say.

Martine Spaans
Owner
Tamalaki

Martine Spaans runs publishing label Tamalaki.com; a boutique publisher with a hands-on approach, specialised in Hidden Object, Match-3 and Simulation games.

Tamalaki joined forces with partner-company FGL.com, which focuses on idle/clicker gamer, card and board games, and silly puzzles.

I saw a writeup that the $1.5 billion budget equals to about 10 individual Disney game releases. It’s a lot of money, even for Disney, but partnering with Epic Games probably feels like a better road to success than trying to release 10 standalone games, especially when they’re looking for retention and engagement.

Looking at Disney working with Fortnite wearing my DGA-hat, I’d say that it’s of big significance. Disney is a brand trusted by parents all over the world. Disney content is more easily considered “safe” for kids.

That’s because parents grew up with Disney themselves and have a connection with the brand. Fortnite is alien to many parents who do not play games themselves, and they only see drawbacks like game addiction.

Disney partnering with Epic/Fortnite could be a step in the right direction to bring more connection to games for a non-gaming audience.

As for what I expect to see from the deal, Kingdom Hearts meets virtual Disney World Theme Park, perhaps?

I’m sure the teams involved have very exciting plans in the pipeline, but this project will surely be so big it will take a couple of years before it sees the full daylight.

Mobile Mavens on the big Disney deal with Epic Games | Pocket Gamer.biz

Oscar Clark
Chief Strategy Officer
Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

Disney has had multiple attempts to get involved in the games industry over the years, but like many entertainment giants, it hasn’t really made its mark. They switched to a licensing model back in 2016, I think, but this feels a little different.

The push around Metaverse has waned somewhat since Facebook’s crash and burn in their plans. However, the idea that spatial computing experiences will be important at some point continues to ignite discussions.

Disney understands entertainment brands and how to exploit them. Fortnite is the closest thing we have to a metaverse, with perhaps the exception of Roblox, and is the only one with the visual fidelity and scale that could work for Disney licences.

I can’t help but believe that the significant increase in the use of the Unreal Engine in film production is also be a factor.

Plus, if you chose to go down a platform route like Playstation/Xbox/PC, you would be restricting the available audience. It seems like a smart move for Disney and Epic, but I feel it’s a longer-term play.

Mobile Mavens on the big Disney deal with Epic Games | Pocket Gamer.biz

Fortnite is the leading game on console in terms of monthly active users and game time, so if you are looking for easy exposure to millions of console gamers, at least a partnership with Fortnite is a proven method.

In December, we saw how the introduction of LEGO Fortnite allowed momentum from the OG Season in November to be extended, and Ampere Games data indicated that time spent in-game increased even more.

In fact, in December, console gamers spent more time in Fortnite than in Call of Duty HQ, EA Sports FC 24, GTA V/Online, and Roblox combined… and the LEGO partnership was a significant force behind that achievement.

Fortnite offers a premade audience of highly engaged players, which is something a standalone new release would have to work up to. Plus, it is one of the few mediums that has really captured the attention of younger demographics – something brands often struggle to do.

In terms of what we might see from this partnership, we should anticipate some larger-scale activities beyond the expected in-game events and cosmetics. I’m sure the focus will be on more pacifist forms of entertainment: in-game concerts or social events, for example.

We have already seen multiple Disney/Fortnite collaborations with the likes of Marvel and Star Wars, so this isn’t something completely new.

It seems unlikely that any OG Disney characters will be involved in the battle royale side of things, but I could foresee further non-violent modes being introduced in the future where such characters could be used more freely.

Mobile Mavens on the big Disney deal with Epic Games | Pocket Gamer.biz

I believe Epic Games and their technology portfolio will be considered as important as the Pixar/BAMTech/Lucas technology acquisitions were for Disney’s continued dominance in the entertainment industry.

The relationship they had before the investment was already successful due to Unreal Engine being a pivotal film technology and Fortnite being a licensing merchandise store.

Fortnite is truly a distribution template on top of the Unreal Engine. That’s apparent because of the ability to create and distribute UGC within the game’s free-to-play ecosystem.

Monetisation of the content is a giant aspect that I feel could be explored by Disney and Epic working closely together.

We are all aware that Disney understands the importance of the streaming sector. It combines all forms of video entertainment under the Disney Plus Bundle. I don’t think it is far-fetched to imagine Epic Disney entertainment becoming part of that package in the future.

Disney is also hedging against their parks, experiences, products, operating income, and how quickly that can be affected by a world-changing event like Covid. Having a virtual world experience is far more mutable and forgiving to issues that alter the world.

Disney does a wonderful job of making its physical parks feel like you are walking into distinct zones or worlds. That translates extremely well to the experience of Fortnite Islands.

That is the low-hanging fruit to me, but I see Fortnite as a neutral location where multiple licences can coexist and compete to monetise through the Fortnite economy, like a mall. That wouldn’t be the most ideal experience for Disney because they don’t control all aspects of the experience.

I would not rule out hardware. Having dedicated hardware allows a complete pure monetisation path. There will be a lot of hardware tech companies that failed to create a cohesive package for their AR products that could easily be snatched for patent and product expertise.

Disney’s Fortnite properties and licensed virtual items could be the gateway to a future new AR experience. I would love to have my kid train as a young Jedi that I could take on adventures as a bounty hunter. Let’s make that happen!

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