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Epic acquires the Fall Guys creators: third time's the charm?
Mediatonic hopes to fare better than Chair and Psyonix in the long run
Seemingly out of nowhere - there was never even a hint of a rumor on the Web prior to the official announcement - Tonic Games Group, the parent company of Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout creator Mediatonic, confirmed that it's been acquired by none other than Epic Games for an undisclosed sum. This comes only a few short days after Mediatonic's announcement about an Xbox and Switch version of Fall Guys being planned for release in the summer.
Both companies' statements claim that nothing regarding the current state of Fall Guys and its already announced future plans will change: the popular game will still be available on Steam for PC and on the PlayStation Store for PS4/PS5 and will still be receiving timely content updates. Epic confirmed, however, that Fall Guys will be also making its way to the Epic Games Store sooner rather than later, while both companies declined to comment on the possibility of Fall Guys becoming a free-to-play title in the future.
Mediatonic's acquisition is only the third of its kind in Epic's history: while the Americans have acquired plenty of development tools companies in the past in order to bolster the toolset offered by the Unreal Engine, the only other creative companies they bought outright were Chair Entertainment in 2008 and Psyonix in 2019.
This fact might give Mediatonic's members pause: since its acquisition Chair Entertainment only launched the three Infinity Blade games on iOS and the rather unsuccessful Battle Breakers which is free-to-play on the Epic Games Store, App Store and Google Play. Chair is pretty much in limbo these days, with its latest title SpyJinx not leaving beta for over a year now. Psyonix, on the other hand - the creator of the wildly successful Rocket League - is now solely focused on creating extra content to sell to its vast userbase, as the title has gone free-to-play on all platforms since last summer.
Fall Guys going free-to-play, in other words, is a rather strong possibility given Epic's history with Fortnite and other franchises - something that Mediatonic may or may not be happy about in the long run, as pumping out endless new costumes and arenas for a title, even one as fun as Fall Guys, is not exactly the most creative thing in the world of games development. Fall Guys is also built using the Unity engine, not the Unreal one, a fact which could prove problematic when Epic and Mediatonic go for features such as cross-play in the future and ultimately lead to major changes in the game's codebase.
Acquisitions like this one can go either way. Mediatonic could very well benefit from it by using Epic's marketing and expertise in order to morph Fall Guys into a Fortnite-esque platform, played across several home and mobile formats to provide a steady source of revenue based on a core userbase. It could, on the other hand, be reduced to a DLC/season pass production machine with an expiration date - which might find the road back to creative projects rather difficult in the long run. Which of those two paths lies in Mediatonic's future, only time will tell.