The deal means continued investment into building out “Fall Guys,” a battle royale where you play as a jelly bean fumbling through obstacle courses.
The family friendly fun of “Fall Guys” seems like a fitting match with Epic Games’ own viral, teen-appropriate game “Fortnite.” It also expands Epic’s portfolio from its game-making software Unreal Engine, its storefront Epic Games Store and other acquisitions including the social media app, House Party. In 2019, Epic acquired Psyonix, the game developer behind the popular car-soccer game “Rocket League.”
Mediatonic said on its site that the deal won’t affect gameplay and that “Fortnite” and “Rocket League,” both owned by Epic, have features that the studio would love to bring to “Fall Guys,” including squad modes, cross-play and account systems.
“We’ll now have the full power of Epic Games to help us take the game to new (dizzying) heights,” Mediatonic wrote on its site.
The deal could also mean more crossovers between games. “Fortnite,” “Rocket League” and “Fall Guys” have all incorporated content from other intellectual property (IP) in the past. “Fortnite” has its collaboration with Marvel and Star Wars, to name a few. “Rocket League” has done a crossover event with “Fortnite.” Fall Guys has previously featured costumes from indie game “Cuphead.”
“Epic essentially becomes the equivalent of a digital theme park. ... It is developing a content portfolio that has an aesthetic consistency of bright, colorful, and fun online game play,” said Joost van Dreunen, founder of video game investment firm New Breukelen, “It stands to reason that large IP holders like Disney and others will want to explore releasing special events and activities.”
Mediatonic declined to comment on whether the deal means “Fall Guys” will eventually go free-to-play, as “Rocket League” did after its acquisition. Currently the game costs $19.99 on Steam and can be played for free on PlayStation with a PlayStation Plus subscription ($9.99 per month).
Cassia Curran, founder of Curran Games Agency, said that Epic’s acquisition is part of a growing trend in recent years of indie studios being purchased by large companies, including Microsoft buying Double Fine and Ninja Theory.
“Fall Guys” and “Fortnite” both found similar paths to success, she said. "The Tonic Group has had experience in developing free-to-play mobile games that required strong social systems and live operations to successfully monetize players,” which led to Fall Guys being a success. That’s similar to how Epic understood “Fortnite” had to be a place for players to interact for many years, said Curran.
The move helps Epic continue building out its vision of a metaverse, which is a goal Tonic shares, CEO Tim Sweeney said in a news release. The metaverse is an idea of what the next version of the Internet could be: a shared, virtual space that’s online with its own economy.
“The games in Epic’s first-party portfolio are platforms in their own right,” Kendall Davis, an advisor at global games fund Kowloon Nights, said. “This means that Epic needs to be looked at as a true entertainment company with an ability to attract and retain large audiences, rather than simply a games company.”