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The blue car represents Psyonix leaping over Steam's... orange car? Look, it's a loose metaphor. Work with me here, people.
Enlarge / The blue car represents Psyonix leaping over Steam’s… orange car? Look, it’s a loose metaphor. Work with me here, people.

In a surprise move today, Epic Games announced it has “signed a definitive agreement” to acquire San Diego-based Psyonix and its 132 employees, who make the hit car-based soccer game Rocket League.

As part of the deal, the PC version of Rocket League will be moving to the Epic Game Store “in late 2019,” Epic announced. “In the meantime, it will continue to be available for purchase on Steam; thereafter it will continue to be supported on Steam for all existing purchasers.” Psyonix says it will continue to sell and support Rocket League on other platforms, including the PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, going forward.

“In the short term, nothing will change at all!” Psyonix writes in a blog post accompanying the announcement. “We’re still committed to providing Rocket League with frequent updates that have new features, new content, and new ways to play the game for as long as you’ll have us.”

“In the long-term, we expect to bring Rocket League to the Epic Games store and to leverage our new relationship to grow the game in ways we couldn’t do on our own before,” the post continues. “We believe that bringing Rocket League to new audiences with more support is a win for everybody.”

Psyonix also says it sees the acquisition, which is due to close in May or June, as “significantly increas[ing] our potential reach and resources” for the game as an esport.

“We’ve been working closely with Epic since the early days of Unreal Tournament, and we’ve survived changing tides as partners, so combining forces makes sense in many ways,” Psyonix founder and studio director Dave Hagewood said in a statement. “The potential of what we can learn from each other and accomplish together makes us truly excited for the future.”

The Psyonix acquisition is the latest aggressive move for Epic, which is flush with cash following the massive success of Fortnite. Since launching the Epic Games Store late last year with a Steam-beating revenue share of 88 percent for developers, the studio has gone about buying up numerous high-profile exclusives for the platform and giving away free games every other week to attract customers.

Founded in 2001, Psyonix worked behind the scenes on Unreal Engine games, including Gears of War, Mass Effect 3, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Bulletstorm, Unreal Tournament III, and Unreal Tournament 2004. The company didn’t have a breakout hit to its own name, though, until 2015’s Rocket League became a standout release of the year. The game reached 50 million unique players as of last September, according to Psyonix, and offered a $1 million prize pool for its most recent esports season.

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