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Sony and Lego's owners have invested $2 billion in Epic Games

Guess what for

Last week, Epic and Lego announced their intent to build "a space in the metaverse" for children. Today, Sony and KRIKBI - the investment company behind The Lego Group - announced that they'd each invested $1 billion (around £769m) in Epic Games to aid more broadly with "the company's vision to build the metaverse."

As always, all of this is more fun if you replace the word "metaverse" with, for example, "Habbo Hotel."

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Basically, what's happened is that Epic noticed that a lot of people were using Fortnite as a space to hang out with friends. The game of building and shooting was somewhat incidental to this, in the way shops are somewhat incidental to '90s teens hanging out in malls. Online virtual hangout spaces have existed for decades, but calling them "the metaverse" makes it sound exciting and new to investors.

Neither Epic, Sony or Lego have much to say in the press release. Sony president Kenichiro Yoshida says they think the deal will "accelerate our various efforts such as the development of new digital fan experiences in sports and our virtual production initiatives," while KIRKBI CEO Søren Thorup Sørensen says something even more vague about digital play. I look forward to a new generation of morally dubious digital experiences which advertise to children.

The investment doesn't change Tim Sweeney's control of Epic Games, and it apparently values Epic Games at $31.5 billion (around £24.2 billion).

I don't doubt that children will spend a lot of time in virtual spaces in future. It's just that it's the school holidays in the UK at the moment and I have Covid, so my six-year-old and I already spent most of the day in the metaverse called "Kirby And The Forgotten Land". It's a videogame, sure, but we've also spent a lot of time expanding its town and hanging out there to play the fishing minigame. A metaverse, therefore.

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