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Sony Group Corporation and Kirkbi, the holding and investment group which controls The Lego Group, have invested $1 billion each into Unreal Engine developer Epic Games, with the money earmarked to help build and sustain the metaverse.

Unreal Engine has been an omnipresent force in the foundation of the metaverse. It’s also become an increasingly popular tool in the animation industry, commonly used for real-time development and final production. Epic Games has also invested heavily in animation, dishing out Epic Megagrants to more than 400 projects last year, many of them from the worlds of animation and game design.

Under the terms of the Sony-Kirkbi investment deal, the three companies will work together to “create new social entertainment exploring the connection between digital and physical worlds.”

Epic’s ownership structure will not change, with the company remaining under the control of CEO and founder, Tim Sweeney, and a significant minority stake by Chinese conglomerate Tencent Holdings. The company’s post-money equity valuation now sits at $31.5 billion.

In the release, Sweeny explained that:

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.

This is the second major Epic Games investment by Sony, after an initial $250 million investment in July 2020. Kirkbi’s involvement comes shortly after the Lego Group announced a long-term partnership with Epic.

Sony Group Corporation chairman, president, and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida added:

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.

For his part, Søren Thorup Sørensen, CEO at the family-owned Kirkbi explained:

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.

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