Epic’s lawsuit with Apple has unearthed a lot of information as the trial began today. When Epic CEO Tim Sweeney was asked to take the stand, he revealed that his company pays Sony for cross-play support on PS4 and PS5, making it the only platform holder to require additional compensation (via The Verge).
“In certain circumstances, Epic will have to pay additional revenue to Sony,” he said. “If somebody were primarily playing on PlayStation but paying on iPhone, then this might trigger compensation.” Epic also confirmed that it paid extra fees to enable cross-play in Fortnite on PlayStation.
Earlier I wrote that PlayStation’s partnership with Discord shows that it’s getting serious about cross-play, but Sweeney’s statements give us a troubling look into Sony’s mindset. While cross-play was added to Fortnite on PlayStation in 2018, around three years ago, it speaks to the current situation that Epic has to pay fees “in certain circumstances” still. This could be why more games don’t enable cross-play on PlayStation.
In 2018, Epic’s Joe Kreiner emailed Sony, pleading with the company to enable Fortnite. He went so far as to say that if enabled, Epic could paint Sony out to be a hero, and he even offered to add PlayStation exclusive content. After cross-play was enabled for all PlayStation games in 2019, another document revealed that publishers would have to pay royalties determined by a portion of PSN Revenue Share divided by PS4 Gameplay Share.
Cross-play is an ever-growing feature that’s being added to more games, and even if you haven’t been able to buy a PS5 yet, you can still play most of those titles on PS4. That Sony is the only platform holder to require extra compensation is backwards and sadly in line with some of its antiquated beliefs. Remember when it didn’t care about backward compatibility?
This new partnership with Discord indicates a bright future, but Sony still needs to adjust some of its cross-play policies.