Five things on Friday #360

Things of note for the week ending Friday February 9th, 2024.


It’s 545am on Friday February 9th when I’m writing this intro. I wonder what time it’ll be when I hit send?

It’s Chinese New Year tomorrow. I don’t know about you but the start of 2024 has not been fantastic. I won’t go into the detail but just put it this way: there was a point about two weeks ago when I think I just sat down and cried. And in among the tears I said: ‘Hi, hello? Yes, I’ve had enough now thanks. No more please? Please? Thanks’ – I think that helped.

Holding onto resilience – against the relentlessness of it all (squares vs triangles) – has not been easy. But I am doing it.

One day at a time.

The benefit of good therapy in my past combined with an incredible partner (and just honest-to-god the most amazing friends) has meant the days, as hard as they are sometimes, always end with a hug and the reality that love is the answer.

Love is always the answer.

So this weekend I’m starting again.

Chinese New Year celebrations tonight and then let’s see what the year of the dragon brings starting tomorrow (Saturday).

See you there yeah?

🐉 🐲 🐉 🐲 🐉

What else can I tell you?

Ah yes! Thank you to the handful of you that have signed up to be paid subscribers. The first few months of Buttondown’s fees have been covered and to think that you lot actually want to contribute to the running costs of this thing was genuinely moving.

More on the details of all that at the end of the newsletter.

Speaking of the newsletter, shall we actually get on with this thing now?




A HUGE announcement – and I want to talk about a few things that seem to have been missed…

The news that launched a thousand Linkedin comments

If you haven’t already, go ahead and read the press release (it’s OK, I’ll wait).


All done?


Let’s get into it.

First thing first: the key word in the release is DEEPENING.

Disney-owned properties have been licensed out to Fortnite (among many, many others) for years. And, per the release, Disney has also been using Unreal Engine to power the content and SFX behind many of its tentpole properties again FOR YEARS.

So this is a DEEPENING (a not exactly insignificant $1.5Bn deepening – we’ll come back to this) of an existing relationship.

The interesting thing – for me at least – is about the ‘new persistent universe’ that will be created as part of this announcement.

To quote Disney (emphasis mine):

“In addition to being a world-class games experience and interoperating with Fortnite, the new persistent universe will offer a multitude of opportunities for consumers to play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and more. Players, gamers and fans will be able to create their own stories and experiences, express their fandom in a distinctly Disney way, and share content with each other in ways that they love.”

So what does this tell us?

1. Disney SSO. Coming to an EPIC page near you.

I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say we’ll soon see a ‘Link your Disney account’ button on Epic’s sign in page.

Like this –

The Epic sign in page but with an added Disney+ logo
Remember when the Lego one appeared and everyone went mental? Same same.

Disney has been tidying up its single sign on (SSO) across its properties for a while – between Marvel, Disney, parks, store, and now Plus – having the Disney SSO linked to your Epic account just makes sense.

And of course, once linked, I’m fairly sure that’ll unlock something for the loyal subscribed user (like, I dunno – an exclusive Goofy skin with some Mickey Mouse back bling or whatever).

Because of course it will.

But where will you do this?

2. Let’s talk about that persistent universe.

Going by the image shared by Disney in the release (embedded above) you can see a LOT. At first glance I count Wreck-it Ralph, Lilo and Stitch, Stark Industries, Halloween Town, Pandora, Hoth, The Death Star, ESPN, Lucasfilm Pixar… hell, even Disney Cruise Lines gets its own harbour area. All across different areas/zones/islands and each one with its own purpose.

So if it’s Disney, it’ll be there.

What else can we guess?

In the same way that Lego has arrived on the Fortnite Platform, we can bet that the Disney Universe (The DU) will be similar if not the same.

(So it’ll be free to play, right?)

But bigger.

Fly ar?ound Hoth with your friends. Maybe launch into Star Wars Outlaws from within the platform (maybe?). Once you’ve done that, you can head over to Disney Studio Island (left on the image above) and watch the latest series of The Mandalorian in a watch party with your friends.

If you’ve ever spent any time at a Disney Parks (world/land/Euro), then you’ll spot that the layout in those places are a huge inspiration for these – and it shows.

3. Interoperability, aaaaaay?

When Disney talks about ‘interoperating with Fortnite‘, again we refer to our friends at Lego.

Ahsoka Tano!

Got a specific skin in your locker on Fortnite? You’ve got that skin in Lego.

You could place a fairly solid bet that when this thing launches (let’s have a guess at before or at least during D23 this coming Auguston day one you’ll be able click once to the right from Lego Fortnite, hit the Disney logo, and then walk right into the The DU on Fortnite with that exact same skin.

I would also fully expect to be able to buy items within the Disney experience and then have those items to wear while playing Battle Royale. Did you buy a Tie Fighter to fly around in The DU? Expect to unlock that as a glider in Fortnite etc.

Link that to games played, movies watched, series’ binged, items purchased, parks visited… well, you can quickly see how all that works together.

IMAGINE you watch the second season of Ahsoka in its opening weekend and, as a result, you get exclusive skins for The DU.

Now imagine a much more complex version of this slide knocking around over in Burbank.

(To be clear: I made this slide. Today)

Disney x Epic. Including but not limited to:

Your own stories in The DU.
With DU characters in Fortnite.
Anywhere and everywhere all powered by UE5/UEFN.

Your friends play DU content.
Disney Premier content.
Disney content on and off platform – powered by Disney+.

Disney digital items.
Disney licensed products in the Fortnite Item Shop.
Disney-themed items linked to Disney Experiences (parks and more).

A Fortnite/Digital version of this one I guess?.


What about the ONE POINT FIVE BILLION DOLLARS then? Well, Reuters is reporting that Disney got its 9% stake at a STEAL of a price, given how much post-pandemic the value of Epic has dropped since (about $10bn by the looks of things).

This should come as no surprise (Epic is in its 4.0 phase now, do keep up 007). However, these deals do not happen overnight and given the value fluctuation, the number crunchers at Disney should be very happy.

4. What are people not talking about?

People are NOT talking about the Apple-sized elephant in the room.

Disney and Apple are VERY close bedfellows. Epic and Apple are… not. I wonder if board positions and friendly CEO gatherings will eventually/perhaps thaw that out.

I highly doubt it but still.

It’s a thought.

And one to keep an eye on.

5. And I guess we need to address this newsletter’s own elephant in the room.

Someone had to say it

It is perhaps telling that the Disney press release manages to get through the whole thing without saying the M word.

I am reminded of Tim Sweeney, back in March 2023, talking about his definition.

“We can set aside the crazy hype cycle around NFTs and VR goggles… …and the core of it is something that every gamer understands: it’s you, and your friends, getting together online and going around as a group – on voice chat, having a fun time in social entertainment experiences. Some of these experiences are serious games like battle royale, some of them are going to a concert and dancing or chatting with friends and just having a good time”


PS. I meant to say earlier but forgot: ‘Players, gamers, and fans’ is an interesting segmentation reveal, no?


No words. Just vibes.

Go watch.



Back by popular demand (OK, I had ONE message – you know who you are) here we are talking about gaming.

Given the monster deep dive we’ve just done on the Disney thing, I’ll TRY and keep this brief.

What am I playing? Well, I haven’t down Lego Fortnite since it dropped if I’m honest – and I’ve probably left Baldur’s Gate 3 alone for so long now that I might need to restart it Bah.

That said, we’ve been making some fun things for Helldivers 2 (including this lovely bit of silliness) and so I’ve got that lined up to play at some point this weekend.

What about you?

What have you been playing?



“After 8 months of collecting and building… My daughters “colorful” Lego UCS Millennium Falcon is done!”

Read more over on Reddit.


Kara Swisher on her front tow seat to a slow moving catastrophe is a great insight into someone who saw the sky falling, screamed the sky is falling, and is now sat watching peers and colleagues wondering where the sky has gone.

It’s someone saying ‘I told you so’ for a few hundred words but it’s still a good read.





Thanks for reading this week’s edition of Five things on Friday. I hope you’re enjoying its new home on Buttondown.

All feedback on the new set up is VERY WELCOME.


A big thank you to those of you that generously donated to the running costs ($29 USD per month) of the always free Five things on Friday.

If you want to chuck a couple of quid directly to FToF on Buttondown then you can do that at these links

100% of all your dollar will go on Buttondown fees.


I hope things are treating you well. I’m coming up to two years in my job at Diva and have been reflecting a lot on what it means to be a leader.

Good leaders are defined by the leaders they leave behind them.

Good leaders know the way, go the way, and show the way.

Good leaders are what you make them.

Good leaders are… you tell me.

It’s 12:02 on the first day of the Chinese New Year. I’ve just sent a quick note out on Substack re: closing that down for good (sorry for the double up – I’m sure you don’t mind), and I think I’d quite like a sausage sandwich.

Until next time,

Whatley out x

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Author: James Whatley

Experienced advertising and communications strategist working in brand, games, and entertainment. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x