During the court case between Epic Games and Apple, it was revealed that Fortnite’s cross-play functionality with Sony’s PlayStation ecosystem came at a price—Epic Games paid for it.
For those who aren’t aware, there is an ongoing court battle between Fortnite developer, Epic Games and the hardware titan, Apple, over rules and regulations on the App Store, and whether they apply to Fortnite’s in-game currency system. Microsoft has backed Epic Games in the fight, but Apple has been removing Epic-related content in retaliation.
Interestingly, some information outside of this specific battle has arisen as an aside, including today’s findings that show court documents in which Epic Games had to pay Sony in order to get them to allow cross-play between PlayStation and other modes of play.
“Sony has a policy that requires if the ratio of payments across platforms for a given PS user gets out of sync with the playtime, then we have to pay them a commission on other platform revenue,” Sweeney said. “So if someone were primarily playing on PS but paying on iPhone, they’d [inaudible] compensation to Sony.”
Sweeney went on to clarify that when V-Bucks are purchased on one platform and used on another, every platform involved in the transaction gets a cut, but in the deal made over playtime, Sony specifically gets a larger cut.
After Shawn Layden—the former head of PlayStation—blamed developers for the lack of cross-play support on the system, it turns out he was potentially referring to them not being willing to pay the fee, which is ironic considering cross-play availability was used as a marketing tool to change the fan discourse after years of refusal.
This is a stunning revelation, as it brings all of Sony’s current cross-play functionality into question. Have they been charging all the developers and publishers this fee? Do Xbox and Nintendo also do this? A lot to unpack from this news, but while it’s only a small commission based on playtime, it still seems somewhat nefarious.