The biggest deal in video games this year just happened, and it's only July. Sony ($NYSE:SNE), a worldwide publisher and developer of many studios and game franchises, is no longer hitching their wagon to just their popular PlayStation console. The company announced its investing $250 million in Epic Games ($EPICGAMES), makers of Fortnite, for a 1.4% ownership stake. Epic is now worth $17.86 billion, according to Venture Beat

In the press release, the explanation was simply that both publishers would "broaden their collaboration across Sony's leading portfolio of entertainment assets and technology, and Epic's social entertainment platform and digital ecosystem to create unique experiences for consumers and creators." 

Epic Games is no stranger to outside investors taking big swings on it, since Tencent already put in their own $330 million back in 2012 for a 40% stake in the company.

CEO and founder Tim Sweeney showcased the developer's latest Unreal Engine 5 demo last month using the PlayStation 5 hardware, and had quite glowing things to say about it. Some speculated that this was a sign of a new partnership blossoming, and he even admits it in a tweet.

If we were to wildly speculate, this could lead to Sony's movie division making a Fortnite movie/TV show, but that's just putting two and two together. While this deal won't put exclusive games on PlayStation consoles yet, nor does it impact the Epic Games Store on PCs, Sony getting into buying ownership stakes in other companies can be seen as a shot across the bow at rival Microsoft. MS and its Xbox brand bought Minecraft creator Mojang for a cool $2.5 billion, and that has paid for itself very quickly.

Each console maker is snatching up talent left and right as they go into the next console war, which should help Sony compete with Microsoft since they don't have the same size or access to capital.

Of course the main reason why some of you clicked on this article was to see just how gargantuan Fortnite has become since it came out years ago. It's still very profitable, and still one of the most played (and watched) games to ever be created.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.