Sony charged publishers a royalty on cross-play games if it made more money on other platforms

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As the court case between Apple and Epic Games rages on, more and more documents revealing the inner workings of these companies are being released. Today, Epic disclosed emails with Sony during their negotiations to enable cross-play in Fortnite back in 2018. For those who don't remember, Sony was the one holdout to freely enable cross-play between the major consoles, PC and mobile platforms, citing security concerns and assertions that these games were best on Playstation. Finally, in September of 2018, they enabled cross-play on Fortnite, calling the program an "open beta," before fully opening it up over a year later, in October of 2019.

Now, thanks to court documents compiled by The Verge, we know exactly how set against cross-play Sony was. In an email exchange between Joe Kreiner, Epic’s vice president of business development, and Gio Corsi, Sony’s senior director of developer relations, we can see Epic's offer to Sony for enabling cross-play. Epic would offer data that Sony had requested, plus other marketing data, offer exclusive skins to Playstation Plus subscribers, would brand their E3 presence with Sony, and offers to go out of their way to let Sony "look like heroes" when it comes to the cross-play announcement. They also mention that Sony's companywide license for Unreal Engine 4 would be expiring in about a year from then, and offer to extend it as that license has "some of the best terms we've ever offered for UE4." There's even an offer to spitball further ideas, and suggest that perhaps Epic could commit to a game at the launch of the next iteration of PSVR. Sony didn't agree, shooting back that "many companies are exploring this idea and not a single one can explain how cross-console play improves the PlayStation business."

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Sony did eventually agree though, after establishing a revenue sharing system that would see it compensated if there are more players using PSN to access a game than there are paying for in-game purchases through Playstation. Essentially, since Sony takes a 30% cut on all in-game purchases made through PSN, it isn't worth it to them allow PSN's infrastructure to support a game when the paying players are making their purchases through other platforms, so Sony would make the game publishers pay the difference. The graphic below lays out the exact detail of its revenue sharing:

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While it's unclear if Sony is still enforcing this policy, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney spoke on the matter and made no mention that the policy had ended. He also stated that Sony was the only platform holder with this stipulation and that Epic had to agree to these terms to get cross-play enabled on Fortnite.

:arrow: Source (courtesy of The Verge)
 

Tom Bombadildo

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Gasp, business out to make money does thing to make money! Color me shocked.

I figured something along these lines was the case. MS has their fingers in PC gaming so general cross-play there makes sense for them to invest in, and Nintendo doesn't understand how modern online works so there's like 10 games that bother supporting it there and online isn't really a make or break "feature" unlike MS/Sony's ecosystem. So Sony is pretty much the only one that has nothing really to "gain" financially from such a feature and thus only bothered with it when they figured out a way to wring out whatever cash they could.

100% anti consumer move on their part, cross-play at this point should be supported across all consoles/PC by default. I can't think of any legitimate reason unrelated to "boohoo we need money" why someone could be against it.
 

Tweaker_Modding

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whats next? is epic gonna fight this which will result in sony pulling the game from the ps store and is gonna make #FreeFortnite part 2 a thing that will flop like what happened with apple? - bc no joke this seems like something epic would do

i mean yeah sony charging devs for cross play is a dick move as cross play should be standard these days.
 

JonJaded

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Man I saw this all over my twitter feed and I saw so many apologists saying "this is normal", "you shouldn't be surprised" and much worse. Sure, you can say that but toxic business deals like that is what makes the video game industry so hard to support. Just because it's "normal" doesn't mean it should be accepted.

Good on Epic bearing the brunt (with $ of course) and realizing the overall benefit for having crossplay and making the deal work out when they could. I remember the first day full crossplay happened, and I'm glad Epic Games used the momentum of Fortnite to making a DEFAULT in this generation.
 

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Normally I'd say Sony was in the wrong here, but since it was Epic they were dicking over, I'll allow it.

lol.

Maybe this was a way to "incentivize" Epic to do more marketing for Sony's platform. It's a business move, not a "free the gamers" move.
 
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wormdood

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Good I hope they get sony as well as apple ... Sonys greed is why even in cross platform games you still can't have cross platform saves ... pumped cash into your pc account for smite for example and have zero to show for it on playstation ...

It's sony trapping there user base into their platform want to switch to playing a switch or a pc ... Wrong you have to start from scratch or suck it up and stick with a sony console
 
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ZeroT21

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Well, the PS4 has a significant marketshare among console users during that time, so it is kinda understandable sony doesn't want to step out of it's comfortzone
 

smf

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Sure, you can say that but toxic business deals like that is what makes the video game industry so hard to support.

How is it toxic? Epic covers Sony costs if payments are going through Epic servers, but game play is going through Sony servers.
This isn't in the same league as Epic being forced to push payments through Apple servers with game play going through Epic servers.
 
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wormdood

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How is it toxic? Epic covers Sony costs if payments are going through Epic servers, but game play is going through Sony servers.
it's toxic because no other gaming platform forces restrictions like this it's sony using player base as leverage and we the gamer get shafted as the result

This isn't in the same league as Epic being forced to push payments through Apple servers with game play going through Epic servers.
just a correction here epic uses amazons servers for fortnite
 

tabzer

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it's toxic because no other gaming platform forces restrictions like this it's sony using player base as leverage and we the gamer get shafted as the result

He just gave an example of something worse (Apple), and you, the gamer, still have Fortnite.

just a correction here epic uses amazons servers for fortnite

I think this was in reference to Apple getting revenue for all in-game purchases. I don't know much about it, but I don't think it has anything to do with Amazon hosting gameplay, if that's what you are talking about.
 
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