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."
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:
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.
Source (courtesy of The Verge)