A Disney/Epic Games partnership announced this week may see the Fortnite developer return to the App Store despite the fractious relationship between Apple and Epic.

The collaboration will see new games featuring characters and stories across a range of Disney worlds, including Walt Disney, Star Wars, Pixar, and Marvel …

Disney Epic Games partnership

As part of the deal, Disney is buying a stake in Epic.

The Walt Disney Company and Epic Games will collaborate on an all-new games and entertainment universe that will further expand the reach of beloved Disney stories and experiences. Disney will also invest $1.5 billion to acquire an equity stake in Epic Games alongside the multiyear project.

The companies did already have an existing relationship through some Fortnite content collaborations, including the Marvel Nexus War with Galactus, which had more than 15.3 million concurrent players. But Disney CEO Bob Iger says this is the company’s biggest ever move into gaming.

“Our exciting new relationship with Epic Games will bring together Disney’s beloved brands and franchises with the hugely popular Fortnite in a transformational new games and entertainment universe,” said Iger.

“This marks Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of games and offers significant opportunities for growth and expansion. We can’t wait for fans to experience the Disney stories and worlds they love in groundbreaking new ways.”

Disney already makes extensive use of Epic’s Unreal Engine. This has been used to develop video games like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor; to assist with movie animations; and in the creation of more than 15 Disney Parks attractions like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

Could see Epic Games return to the App Store

As John Gruber notes, this is quite the interesting mix as far as Apple is concerned.

Disney has a close relationship and shared history with Apple, while Epic was thrown out of the App Store; engaged in a high-profile legal battle in the US (which still continues, despite the Supreme Court declining to get involved); and has been throwing shade at the company over its controversial response to Europe’s DMA antitrust law.

It seems certain that Disney would want the new games to be available on the iPhone as well as other platforms – and outside Europe, this would either require Epic Games to return to the App Store or for the games to be offered under a Disney developer account, which would effectively be the same thing.

Watch this space …

Image: Disney/Epic Games

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