One of the larger kerfuffles about cross-platform gaming over the past few years came from Fortnite, unsurprisingly. Despite its popularity, when it first released on Playstation 4 Fortnite’s battle royale mode wasn’t cross-platform compatible. It turns out that to get PS4 Fortnite crossplay to begin with, Epic Games had to do some negotiating.
All of this new information comes from a variety of leaked confidential documents, which showed everything from Epic’s negotiations with Playstation for crossplay, to the Playstation stipulations about it that would require studios to personally make up for revenue loss.
Fortnite, for instance, had previously released in 2017 on the Playstation 4, but when it came out on the Switch there was no cross-platform capability, meaning long-time players had to start their progression all over again.
Epic Games, the developers of Fortnite, attempted to budge Sony to allow it, but even in spite of all of their suggestions, Sony was unmoved. Many corporations had come previously to argue for it, and even with Fortnite’s enormous popularity on the Playstation 4, Playstation didn’t see how PS4 Fortnite crossplay could help improve the business.
Epic’s suggestions included heavy Playstation branding at E3, announcing crossplay in conjunction with Sony, making Sony’s esports API an integral part of the game, committing to a game launch on Playstation VR, something special for Playstation Plus, or even offering to extend Playstation’s license for Unreal Engine 4.
PS4 Fortnite crossplay did eventually come about in 2019, when Playstation began to implement the revenue-sharing system that would require Playstation developers to pay for the difference in revenue personally if their games did go cross-platform.
While this is likely what allowed Epic to finally get Fortnite crossplay, it does still put a lot of pressure on smaller devs. There’s no telling if the same sort of policy is in place for Microsoft and Nintendo either, even as Microsoft says they’re looking to have as many people playing games together as possible.