Even Fortnite’s swelling popularity in 2018 wasn’t enough to budge Sony at first. In senior-level emails between Epic and Sony, revealed in the Epic v. Apple trial, and reported by The Verge, Epic was confident Sony would capitulate because Fortnite was the most popular game on PS4 at the time.
Joe Kreiner, the Epic executive in charge of business development, laid out an extensive plan with incentives to Sony, both to give it a PR boost for enabling cross-play and in the two companies’ business relationships. But Sony’s director of developer relations at the time wasn’t convinced that cross-console play would ever help the PlayStation business.
Eventually, in late 2018, Sony agreed to allow Fortnite players on PlayStation to play with other consoles. But a 2019 email, revealed in Epic Games’ lawsuit, sheds light on what it took to make that happen.
In the email, Sony outlines a pay structure that requires publishers to share revenue with Sony if the PlayStation 4’s “gameplay share” is less than 85%. As Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney put it during testimony, “if somebody were primarily playing on PlayStation, but paying on iPhone, then this might trigger compensation.” According to Sweeney, Epic had to agree to these terms for Sony to allow cross-platform play in Fortnite.