A series of emails exchanged between Epic Games and Sony in 2018 have offered a look at the latter’s hesitation to allow cross-play between PlayStation and other platforms, even for a massive game such as Fortnite. The emails were shared by The Verge, having surfaced as part of the just-begun Epic v. Apple trial.
The emails show an exchange between former SIE senior director Gio Corsi and Epic Games vice president of business development Joe Kreiner. In Kreiner’s email, he suggested Epic can get whatever it wants after “Fortnite became the biggest game on PlayStation.” As such, Kreiner made some proposals to entice Sony.
“We announce cross-play in conjunction with Sony,” Kreiner said. “Epic goes out of its way to make Sony look like heroes. You get to pick the when/where/how.”
Kreiner even suggested “[doing] something extra special” for PlayStation Plus subscribers–like a unique character–to help Sony “drive PS Plus adoption even more.” He also proposed that Epic “brands its E3 presence with PlayStation,” look into exploring more titles–such as a VR experience–for the PlayStation ecosystem, and extend the Sony company-wide Unreal Engine 4 license.
Sony apparently disagreed. Corsi shut down Kreiner’s proposals, suggesting cross-play was not a “slam dunk” regardless of a game’s popularity.
“I appreciate the points you’ve listed in the mail, there are a lot of great ideas in here for continued partnership however cross-platform play is not a slam dunk no matter the size of the title,” Corsi said. “As you know, many companies are exploring this idea and not a single one can explain how cross-console play improves the PlayStation business.”
An additional document reveals that, once cross-play was allowed on PlayStation, Sony required developers to sometimes pay a royalty fee for cross-play games. This was based on a calculation comparing the popularity of the PlayStation version of the game and the amount of revenue generated on the PlayStation Network. It’s unclear if this policy is still in place or if Microsoft or Nintendo have similar arrangements.
We’ve reached out to Sony for comment and will update this story if/when we heard back.
Prior to allowing cross-play on PlayStation, Sony was known to be an opponent of the concept. Rocket League developer Psyonix made it clear in 2017 that Sony was preventing PlayStation cross-play, and Sony subsequently said publicly that its reasons included protecting its userbase. Of course, Fortnite now offers cross-play across all platforms with the exception of iOS, which stopped receiving updates last year.
In other Epic, Fortnite, and PlayStation news, it has been revealed that the popular battle royale title makes the most money on PlayStation 4. Elsewhere, Sony announced a $200 million investment in Epic to create a “metaverse.”
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