Before we got a good look at actual games headed to the PlayStation 5 or even at the console itself, we saw Epic's "Lumen in the Land of Nanite" demo running on Sony's new hardware. At the time, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was quick to praise the PS5, which led to some raised eyebrows yesterday when Sony and Epic announced that the former is investing $250 million in the Unreal and Fortnite creators.
Were Sony and Epic discussing investment when Sweeney applauded the PS5's architecture? Sweeney says no.
On Twitter, in response to a user who asserts that Sweeney's remarks about the PS5 and Epic's relationship to Sony look "highly suspect" after news of the investment, Sweeney defends his past statements and says that the talks resulting in yesterday's deal began after the public reveal of the "Lumen" demo. "Serious investment discussions followed from the Unreal Engine 5 demo we showed on PlayStation 5," Sweeney says. "I guess they liked it!"
Sweeney also includes a link back to a tweet he made on May 16, where he said there was no "secret deal" between Sony and Epic that had yet to be disclosed. "100% of the stuff we've been working on with Sony over the past months is now publicly announced," wrote Sweeney. "The UE5 demo on PlayStation 5, Nanite, Lumen, and Epic Online Services for cross-platform play across all platforms."
$250 million is a hefty sum, but in the grand scheme of things, Sony's investment and resulting stake in Epic is relatively small, which folks should stop to consider before accusing Sweeney of mischaracterizing things. The investment has, according to VentureBeat, secured Sony a 1.4% stake in Epic at a valuation that's just shy of $18 billion. In contrast, when Tencent invested $330 million in Epic in 2012, it came away from the deal with 40% ownership.
Epic will still work with publishers and platform holders of all stripes. Sweeney's far from alone in geeking out about the PS5's tech, and as he eagerly reminded folks last year, he's still the controlling shareholder in Epic. Between Unreal, Fortnite, and the Epic Games Store, the company simply is a gigantic industry player, making the ideas of Sweeney being impressed by the PS5 plus Sony wanting a small piece of Epic easy to take at face value.