By Chris Morris
June 13, 2019

For many players, Fortnite is more than a video game. It’s their preferred form of social media, a place to virtually gather with friends and chat.

And Epic Games, Fortnite’s publisher, is doubling down on that social aspect by acquiring social video app Houseparty for an undisclosed amount. The app is popular with the same younger user base that has helped Fortnite become such a force.

“Houseparty brings people together, creating positive social interactions in real time,” Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games, said in a statement. “By teaming up, we can build even more fun, shared experiences than what could be achieved alone.”

Epic told Fortune it made the acquisition partly because Houseparty had a similar business culture, especially its focus on user privacy. Because so many Fortnite players are children, Epic must be careful about how it collects data and uses it.

Epic said that current Houseparty users won’t see any immediate changes to the app and gave no date for when it would be incorporated into any Epic games. In explaining the acquisition, the app maker said all friend lists will be unaffected and user data would not be shared between Houseparty and Fortnite accounts.

“Joining Epic is a great step forward in achieving our mission of bringing empathy to online communication,” said Sima Sistani, co-founder and CEO of Houseparty. “We have a common vision to make human interaction easier and more enjoyable, and always with respect for user privacy.”

Epic Games may best be known for Fortnite, but it also has a growing presence in retail with its Epic Games store, an online competitor to Valve Software’s Steam. Houesparty’s features would let the company help users discover new games and making the store more of a place for players to gather digitally and communicate with each other.

Epic has increasingly been looking to buy companies. In January, it acquired 3Lateral, a software tool for creating digital humans in games.

Fortnite, which debuted in 2017, is a cultural phenomenon with over 200 million registered users. That popularity is declining a bit, however. For example, viewership of Fortnite on streaming services such as Twitch has fallen from its highs.

Epic, though, has a policy of regularly releasing new content to ensure the game’s audience remains engaged. So far, even with the declining Twitch numbers, that strategy has been successful.

Adding features like Houseparty’s video chat could keep Epic’s players around even when they’re not playing and also helps with selling more games.

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