It’s no secret that Sony has held back PS4 cross-platform play for years, but new confidential documents and emails show how much Sony was against letting people play the same games with their friends on other platforms. Sony initially blocked cross-platform play for both Rocket League and Minecraft, despite Nintendo and Microsoft both allowing players to play on Xbox and Switch. The problem really blown up when Sony blocked Fortnite crossplay in 2018, and players were angry. It now appears that Sony may have persisted to make up for potential revenue losses.
In the months leading up to Sony’s decision to block Fortnite crossplay in 2018, Epic Games had begged Sony for crossplay, emails in the Epic Games v Apple case. “I can’t think of a scenario where Epic doesn’t get what we want – that option was thrown out then Fortnite became the biggest game on PlayStation, ”said Joe Kreiner, Epic’s vice president of business development.
Kreiner suggested, “We are announcing crossplay in partnership with Sony. Epic is committed to making Sony look like heroes. “Epic even offered to promote its presence at E3 with PlayStation or add unique characters, exclusively for PS Plus subscribers, to sweeten the deal.” Let’s make it a huge win for all of us. Epic doesn’t change his mind on the matter, so let’s just agree on it now, ”said Kreiner.
Gio Corsi, Sony’s senior director of Developer Relations at the time, rejected the idea of crossplay, noting that “cross-platform play isn’t a slam dunk no matter the size of the title” – a clear reference to Epic’s flex over Fortnitedominance on PlayStation. “As you know, many companies are exploring this idea and none can explain how cross-console play improves PlayStation business,” Corsi said.
But as of August 2019, it looks like Sony may have found a worthy argument: a way to potentially transfer money from its competitors in exchange for access to PlayStation players.
The email correspondence does not reveal where the problem ultimately ended up, but a document titled “ Cross-Platform Policy, Requirements and Process ” from August 2019 (following the Sony change) shows how Sony can now approach crossplay: share cross-platform revenue, forcing publishers to pay Sony a royalty every time PlayStation players contribute more than a certain percentage to the profit of a cross-platform game, to offset Sony’s “drop in revenue”, allowing for cross-play. It’s unclear whether Nintendo and Microsoft have enforced similar agreements to enable crossplay in games.
Sony also states in its policy that publishers cannot transfer virtual currency to or from PlayStation and that there must be a setting to disable all cross-platform interactions.
We’ve reached out to Sony to clarify if this cross-platform revenue share still exists, and we’ll inform you accordingly.
There may have been other good reasons for Sony to stop blocking crossplay as well: three months after the Epic Games emails, Sony faced a backlash when it blocked Fortnite crossplay and eventually discontinued in late 2018, with a new policy change to allow crossplay in select games.
These emails and documents provide just a glimpse of Sony’s initial crossplay blocking efforts before Epic Games’ success with Fortnite seems to have forced the company to give in eventually.