IN A NUTSHELL:
- Sony requires developers to pay extra money in connection with the implementation of cross-play feature on PlayStation 4;
- The amount depends on how many people play on the console and how much money the Japanese company receives as a result.
Thanks to the lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple, we get to learn a number of interesting details about both parties, as well as various other players in the industry (via ResetEra), for example, Sony Interactive Entertainment. The company, according to the disclosed information, is demanding quite a lot of money from developers for the opportunity to implement cross-play on PlayStation 4 (the documentation relates to this platform specifically, but most likely the same is true for PlayStation 5).
How much money are we talking about? In the first month after the release of a game, if it earned a million dollars and up to 95% of people play on the PS4 - so that at least 90% of the money earned goes to Sony - the Japanese do not charge any fees. If in the second month the situation is similar in terms of the number of players and distribution between platforms, but the discussed concern rakes only 60% of profits, it has the right to demand additional money from the developers. The specific amount is calculated by converting the percentage of profit sharing and percentage of engagement on the platform to dollars (in the example presented, $600 thousand and $950 thousand respectively - 60% and 95% of a million dollars), and then subtracting the first from the second and multiplying the result by 15%. Thus, in the case of the discussed example, it would be an amount of $52.5 thousand (fifteen percent of $350 thousand).
It is worth noting that developers do not have to pay Sony additional money in a situation where the Japanese derive more than 85% of total profits from the game. Partners must send Sony monthly reports showing the distribution and the company has the right to conduct an audit in a situation where there is a belief that something is wrong. The fees also only apply to titles that have earned at least $500,000 in a 12-month period.
Epic Games admitted that Sony Interactive Entertainment is its only partner that requires similar fees, which obviously doesn't put the creators of PlayStation in a very good light. However, it's worth remembering that SIE has a leading position in the market and is simply looking out for its interests - the system is designed to protect the Japanese from a situation where 95% of players play on PS4 most of the time (using PlayStation's network infrastructure), but for some reason (e.g. through dislike of the console interface) prefer to buy skins / items / season passes on mobile or PC.
Cross-play in Fortnite, or how Epic made a "hero" out of Sony
In the documents devoted to the case, there was another interesting thread about the relationship between Epic Games and Sony Interactive Entertainment. It's about how Tim Sweeney's company convinced the Japanese to invest in cross-play features in 2018. In addition to various proposals for advertising and collaboration, Epic suggested that it would present Sony as the hero that made it possible for players to play across platforms. The question then arises as to whether Tim Sweeney's favour towards PS5 was entirely genuine and selfless, or whether he was merely fulfilling one of the stipulations of an agreement between the giants...
- Epic Games - official website
- Sony Interactive Entertainment - official website