Sony is spending $1bn to buy another 3% stake in Epic Games to help ‘build the metaverse’

Epic Games' founder and CEO, Tim Sweeney

Sony‘s relationship with Epic Games is getting even closer.

Last year Sony Group Corporation – parent company of Sony Music Groupspent USD $200 million to acquire a 0.7% stake in the Fortnite-making (now BandCamp-owning) games company.

That investment followed a heftier stake acquisition in 2020, when Sony spent $250 million to acquire equity in Epic worth around 1.5% of its business.

Now some more big news: Today (April 11), Epic Games has confirmed that Sony has agreed to spend $1 billion to acquire an additional stake in its company.

Epic Games says this latest agreement gives it a $31.5 billion post-investment equity valuation – meaning that Sony’s new $1 billion investment has bought it an additional slice worth approximately 3.2% of Epic.

Let’s do the math: Across its three investments over the past three years ($250m in 2020; $200m in 2021; $1bn in 2022), Sony has spent $1.45 billion buying equity in Epic Games.

As a result, today Sony owns approximately 5.4% in the interactive entertainment firm.

Sony isn’t the only participant in Epic Games’ latest funding round: KIRKBI, the family-owned holding and investment company behind The LEGO Group, has also acquired a ≈3.2% stake with its own $1 billion investment.

Across Sony and KIRKBI, then, Epic Games has raised $2 billion at that $31.5 billion valuation.

(Don’t forget: another significant stakeholder in Epic Games is Tencent, which owns 40% of the  North Carolina-based tech company via a $330m investment made in 2012.)

Epic Games says it’s going to use the fresh investment capital from Sony and KIRKBI to “advance [our] vision to build the metaverse and support our continued growth”.

In a media statement, Epic said that it, Sony and KIRKBI all “highly value both creators and players, and aim to create new social entertainment exploring the connection between digital and physical worlds”.

Epic continues to have only a single class of common stock outstanding and remains controlled by its CEO and founder, Tim Sweeney.

Kenichiro Yoshida, Chairman, President and CEO, Sony Group Corporation, said: “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.

“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.”

Søren Thorup Sørensen, CEO, KIRKBI, said: “Epic Games is known for building playful and creative experiences and empowering creators large and small.

“A proportion of our investments is focused on trends we believe will impact the future world that we and our children will live in. This investment will accelerate our engagement in the world of digital play, and we are pleased to be investing in Epic Games to support their continued growth journey, with a long-term focus toward the future metaverse.”

Tim Sweeney, CEO and Founder, Epic Games, said: “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.”

The closing of the investment is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

Epic Games last week unveiled the latest iteration of its Unreal Engine – a tech ‘building block’ upon which video games can be created.

Unreal Engine 5, said Epic, “introduces a collection of groundbreaking features for rendering real-time worlds in incredible high-fidelity detail”.

Epic confirmed that over 85 game studios are already part of the UE5 community, including The Coalition, CD PROJEKT RED, and Crystal Dynamics, who just revealed that they are building a new Tomb Raider video game with UE5.Music Business Worldwide