Independent kids content creation company Epic Storyworlds – founded by seasoned children’s entertainment executives Steve Couture and Ken Faier and a sister company to Faier’s Epic Story Media – is launching Freeground, an online experience studio focused on fan engagement through Roblox experiences. Freeground’s first collaboration with the global entertainment development company Falcon’s Beyond will feature an entertainment destination including a theme park and games based on its Katmandu intellectual property (“IP”).
Based in Quebec City, Freeground is the newest branch of the Epic Story group. Co-founded by Steve Couture, the previous CEO of Frima, the new company will utilise Couture’s past experience in browser-based virtual worlds. Frima was a prominent virtual worlds developer for kids and behind projects such as Bearville, Littlest Pet Shop Online and Skylander’s Universe. Freeground’s dedicated team includes Laurent Mercure as Studio Director, who brings a background in game marketing as well as community management, which is an integral part of Freeground’s company ethos. The new studio will have a full range of services from research and development, to content production, marketing, post-launch operations and monetization strategies.
“As Roblox continues to rapidly cement itself as an integral part of kids’ lives, it’s essential that brand IP owners – across toys, video games, clothing, music, TV content, events and theme parks – who are looking to engage with the younger generation, start thinking about establishing a presence on the platform,” said Steve Couture, Co-Founder of Epic Storyworlds and CEO of Freeground. “With the launch of Freeground, we’re building upon the existing strength of the Epic Story group of companies and its capacity to develop global and creative franchises by offering companies a chance to capitalize on the significant opportunities that Roblox presents, while ensuring the players are front and center of everything we create. We’re honored to have Falcon’s Beyond as our first collaborator and to be creating a Roblox experience that will propel the idea of a virtual theme park to the next level.”
Ken Faier, Founder and President of Epic Story Media, added: “With the addition of Freeground, the Epic Story group of companies becomes the most complete 360-degree offering for kids’ brand management, handling linear content, games, licensing, merchandising and now, the creation and nurturing of virtual worlds under one roof. Freeground’s unique approach will be focused on not only building highly engaging Roblox experiences, but also drawing on Steve and Laurent’s extensive expertise in community management to ignite fan engagement for the long run.
Freeground’s collaboration with Falcon’s Beyond follows a previously announced joint-venture between Falcon’s Beyond and Meliá Hotels International to roll out “resortainment” destinations around the globe called Falcon’s Beyond Destinations. The upcoming Falcon’s Beyond Destination | Punta Cana will feature the first-ever Falcon’s Resort by Meliá, a five-star all-inclusive resort, and Katmandu Park | Punta Cana, a new world-class theme park based on the Katmandu IP. Both are slated to open late 2022 or early 2023 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, with additional locations to follow. The Falcon’s Beyond Roblox world is set to launch in December 2022.
“We are thoroughly enjoying our collaboration with the Epic Story and Freeground teams in adapting the brands, experiences, and attractions found at our brick-and-mortar entertainment destinations into a vibrant and vivacious Roblox world tailored for that audience,” said Jason Ambler, President of Digital Media at Falcon’s Beyond. “We believe this Roblox experience will be unlike anything players have seen before, offering much to do, build, and explore, as well as reasons to come back again and again. Much like a traditional theme park, our Roblox world will continue to expand with new branded lands, experiences, and games, and other features for players to enjoy.”
Each day, 58.9 million individuals log onto Roblox, making it the fastest growing platform targeting the 6–14-year-old demographic. Roblox is the #1 item kids spend their allowance on, above Fortnite and Minecraft, and over half of all U.S. kids aged 9-12 have a Roblox account (Sources: Roblox Developers Conferences 2019 and 2022).