Some leaked documents between Sony and Epic Games reveal that publishers must pay Sony a royalty for games like Fortnite to crossplay on PS4.
With this news, it is clear that Sony is not very much in favor of this way of playing. The crossplay or crossed game is a style of online multiplayer between consoles and PC that allows players to enjoy the game with their friends from different platforms such as PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC, or a mobile.
This option can be very interesting for users, but not all video game companies are equally interested. Sony has been reluctant and blocked the crossplay of popular games like Minecraft or Fortnite. A series of confidential documents reveal the company’s opinion on this matter.
The documents have been declassified during the trial between Apple and Epic Games that are being carried out. One of the documents reveals that Sony charges a commission to companies that want to have their games in their crossplay offer.
The Verge had published several of these documents, the first being a mail sent by Epic Games to Sony in 2018, before the blockade that Sony applied to its games. In that email, Epic argues that the possible blockade would be detrimental to both companies, and “They don’t see any scenario where Epic doesn’t get what it wants“can be read in the image above.
In the end, the signature of Joe Kreiner, Vice President of Business Development, Epic Games. The email tries to convince Sony to accept the deal with the exclusive Fortnite content offer (promotions on PS Plus, exclusive skins). They also offer all Epic events at E3 that year to have the PlayStation brand and even let Sony organize an announcement of the crossplay in which its image will be above the other companies. The verbatim words are “Epic will do everything possible to make Sony look like the heroes.”
The message did not serve as much as we can imagine knowing that the blockade was applied months later. Still, it is interesting to see the response of Gio Corsi, the director of developer relations at Sony at the time. “As you know, many companies are exploring this idea, and no company has yet been able to explain to them why crossplay improves the PlayStation business.“.
However, in 2019 Sony ended up finding a positive point to this form of multiplatform gaming. A second published document reveals the reason why Sony agreed to adopt crossplay with the rest of the companies: publishers are required to pay Sony a royalty every time PlayStation players they contribute more than a certain percentage to the bottom line of a multiplatform game, to “offset the reduction in revenue” from Sony by enabling cross-play.
In statements to The Verge, the Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has explained that Sony is the only company that receives this compensation. In addition, it prohibits publishers from transferring virtual currencies to or from PlayStation and forces you to offer a setting from which to disable all cross-platform interactions.
It is unknown if this was the only reason they decided to accept the crossplay mode in games like Fortnite or Minecraft. However, after the blockade, the company received a lot of criticism from the players, which could tip the balance.