The creator of battle royale game Fortnite has announced it has secured funding of US$2 billion (NZ$2.93 billion) to build and grow its metaverse vision, including space for children to play in the virtual world.
Epic, which is now worth an estimated US$31.5 billion (NZ$46.2 billion) after the latest investments, received the cash from Sony and the company behind Lego.
Both companies invested US$1 billion each with the aim, the company said, of creating "new social entertainment exploring the connection between digital and physical worlds".
Søren Thorup Sørensen, CEO of Kirkbi - the family-owned company who owns Lego - said they were thrilled to invest and "deepen their relationship in the metaverse field".
"A proportion of our investments is focused on trends we believe will impact the future world that we and our children will live in," Sørensen said.
"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."
Lego's investment comes just a few days after it announced a long-term partnership with Epic to help make the metaverse "safe and fun for children".
"The two companies will team up to build an immersive, creatively inspiring and engaging digital experience for kids of all ages to enjoy together," they said.
"The family-friendly digital experience will give kids access to tools that will empower them to become confident creators and deliver amazing play opportunities in a safe and positive space."
The companies agreed on three principles to ensure the digital spaces developed would:
- Protect children's right to play by making safety and wellbeing a priority
- Safeguard children's privacy by putting their best interests first
- Empower children and adults with tools that give them control over their digital experience.
Kenichiro Yoshida, chairman, president and CEO of Sony Group Corporation, said it was "thrilling" to invest in a space where creators and users share their time.
"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".
Fortnite, while primarily a game, has introduced more metaverse-like concepts over the last couple of years, including online concerts and New Zealand maps.
New Zealand company Zen Creative was involved in 'Lands Down Under', a way for both Australia and Aotearoa to be showcased in the game.
In the virtual space, players explore a visitor centre that includes a gift shop, cafe and function centre.
There's also information about both countries throughout the centre, including an aquarium reminiscent of Kelly Tarlton's and more about our native fauna, such as kiwis and pukekos.