Speaking of crossplay: Sony and Epic were already quietly testing crossplay in January 2018 with both Fortnite and Paragon, and negotiating for much of that year.
In March 2018, Epic and Microsoft publicly revealed that Sony was the only thing keeping every single Fortnite player from being able to play with friends across platforms — but behind the scenes, Epic and Sony were in active discussions to make cross-platform a reality, according to the companies’ emails.
As we’ve written, things got heated. Epic tried to strongarm Sony into enabling crossplay between PS4 and Xbox, with Epic VP Joe Kreiner saying, “I can’t think of a scenario where Epic doesn’t get what we want — that possibility went out the door when Fortnite became the biggest game on PlayStation” in early March. Sony wound up demanding extra financial assurances before it finally caved in September 2018.
But we can also now see moments where Sony and Epic were on better terms. Did you know the companies quietly launched PS4 to PC crossplay in January 2018, two months before the shit hit the fan? Epic shared the results of that test with Sony in February. “We’d like to get the existing Paragon/Fortnite PC exceptions extended to iOS and Android quickly,” Kreiner told Sony developer relations head Phil Rosenberg, adding that “Epic will publicly push that we have crossplay PS4/PC” once Sony agreed to open cross-platform voice chat as well.
Another email thread in June shows Epic CEO Tim Sweeney taking a hard tack on adding Microsoft just days before E3 2018 — with phrases like “Frankly, we do not believe Sony’s position is even legal” and the ultimatum “Please inform Kodera-san, and please be clear that Epic will enable full interoperability between all platforms in Fortnite at a timely point in the future.” But Sweeney goes on to apologize, too, as you can read for yourself in the document above.
In a March 15th “exclusivity and co-marketing agreement,” we can see that Epic traded away something else to get crossplay, cross-platform DLC and cross-platform voice chat across PS4, PC and mobile, too. It agreed to bake Sony’s PS4 tournament platform APIs into Unreal Engine 4.
Sony and Epic’s legal agreement continued to evolve: after adding Xbox crossplay in September 2018, the parties added Linux to the list of “permitted platforms” in May 2019 and then added Google Stadia in September 2019. But Tim Sweeney decided to hold Stadia for ransom, as I mentioned earlier.