In testimony by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, it was revealed that Epic Games has to pay additional revenue to the electronics giant for allowing cross-play.
With a game and a storefront as lucrative as Fortnite, it was no wonder that Sony held back from enabling cross-play for the title, after all, you wouldn’t want those players spending their V-bucks anywhere else.
Epic jumped through all sorts of hoops to try and make the offer of cross-play enticing to Sony, but ultimately Sweeney confirmed in a testimony, uncovered by The Verge, that Sony receives compensation for cross-play.
“In certain circumstances Epic will have to pay additional revenue to Sony,” Sweeney said. “If somebody were primarily playing on PlayStation, but paying on iPhone then this might trigger compensation.” Agreeing to this compensation was a key factor in Sony enabling cross-play in Fortnite, Sweeney later revealed.
In documents revealed as part of the deposition into the ongoing Epic Games vs Apple case, we can see just how hard Sony was holding back, thanks to some released emails.
In these emails, Epic offered up a slew of benefits for enabling cross-play that would have been mutually beneficial between both parties. “Epic goes out of it’s way to make Sony look like heroes,” Joe Kreiner, Epic’s vice president of business development, stipulated in one proposition around the announcement for enabled cross-play.
This went on even further, with “Epic brands it’s E3 presence with PlayStation,” being put on the table, and even proposing committing ”to a game at the launch of your next VR platform?” As well as extending the companywide licence for UE4.
Epic was clearly prepared to pull out all the stops for PlayStation to allow cross-play in Fortnite, however, even the incredible offers being proposed weren’t enough for Gio Corsi, Sony’s then senior director of developer relations who received this email.
“Cross-platform play is not a slam dunk no matter the size of the title,” Corsi responded. “As you know, many companies are exploring this idea and not a single one can explain how cross-console play improves the PlayStation business.” It was clear that even the long list of win-win situations Epic proposed wouldn’t be enough for Sony to give up some potential revenue.
Instead, what PlayStation wanted, and ultimately got, was a compensation model that made sure PlayStation wasn’t being shortchanged on the value of players they allowed through cross-play.
“To offset the reduction in revenue,” the publisher is made to pay a royalty fee when the PSN revenue share doesn’t properly equate to the PS4 gameplay share. To escape the fee, PlayStation wanted at least 0.85 (85%) of the revenue brought in from their percentage of players.
With the document on cross-platform revenue share being dated August 2019, it’s entirely possible that policy details have since changed, even after the testimony by Sweeney that was uncovered by The Verge.