Sony Makes Epic Games Pay for Fortnite Cross-Play

Remember back in the day when Sony finally stopped being the one holdout from Fortnite being cross-platform across all major devices? You know, way back in 2018? It turns out Epic had to agree to cough up extra dough to keep that cross-play support going, and still is to this day.

During the Epic v. Apple trial today, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney took the stand for several hours to answer questions about Epic Games and Fortnite, ranging from the banal “Do you know what a ‘console’ is?” to far more complex queries about the company’s intended business model and relationship with Apple. Late in the day, the cross-examiner began asking Sweeney some basic questions about how cross-platform play in Fortnite works, especially with regards to who profits from purchases made using “cross-wallet” features that allow players to buy skins on one platform and use them on others.

It was during this line of questioning that Sweeney pointed out Sony’s contract had them getting a little extra cash from cross-platform play, specifically when PlayStation Fortnite players consistently bought V-Bucks on other devices but were still gaming on Sony consoles.

“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.”

The cross-examiner had Sweeney confirm that this stipulation was put in place at the time Sony agreed to allow cross-platform play in Fortnite happen on its device. Normally, Sweeney acknowledged, when V-Bucks are purchased on one platform and used on another, every platform involved in the transaction gets a cut — but in the very specific cases that he outlined, Sony gets a little bit more.

We’ve learned quite a bit about how Fortnite works behind the scenes today during the first hours of the trial, including that Fortnite made over $9 billion in its first two years, and that Epic has spent over $11 million for Epic Games Store exclusives since it launched the platform. It also apparently has been trying to get Samus Aran as a skin in Fortnite, and already has plans for skins based on The Rock and Lebron James.

Epic’s challenge of Apple’s 30% revenue cut in court is expected to continue over the next three weeks before a verdict is reached.


Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.

Updated: May 5, 2021 — 3:30 am