Epic Games Store - 88% split goes to devs

New info blocked out below.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney confirmed in testimony today that Sony is the only platform holder that requires this compensation for crossplay. “In certain circumstances Epic will have to pay additional revenue to Sony,” said Sweeney. “If somebody were primarily playing on PlayStation, but paying on iPhone then this might trigger compensation.” Sweeney also revealed that Epic had to agree to pay these additional fees to Sony in order to enable crossplay in Fortnite.

Sony also stipulates in the policy that publishers can’t transfer virtual currency to or from PlayStation, and that there must be a setting to disable all cross-platform interactions.

What a twist! It turns out he villain in the Epic vs. Apple case was Sony all along!

I’m shocked Epic paid it. You’d think they would just say OK, no cross-play on Playstation then.

Is it just me or does it seem from those documents like Sony is actively hostile toward its customers.

There’s no evidence Epic ever had to pay anything. It’s a policy designed to protect Sony in cases where they were providing all the players, but the revenue was being funneled through another service. I’d assume the revenue naturally spreads comperably preventing the royalty from ever triggering. Even if it did, the figures shown were pretty tiny relative to the actual revenue, and in principle it’s not that different from a restaurant charging a bottle service fee if you bring your own wine.

They were actively hostile to giving up a huge competitive advantage for no benefit to their own business.

Remember how they talked about their customers when the PS3 came out, and they just assumed they were going to dominate that generation after the success of the PS2?

That seems incorrect.

Except that now it looks like they’re greedy bastards who are trying to stand in the way of their customers playing this free game with their friends on whatever platform they choose, which might have an effect on public perception of the company and lose them customers. The bottle service analogy is imperfect and doesn’t reflect how people think about these platforms. It’s more like a restaurant manager refusing to allow me to send texts to my friends who are dining at the restaurant next door.

Your analogy is way more flawed than mine. Selling food and booze is a core business for restaurants. Having a captive audience in a walled garden is a core business for consoles. Unless you’re texting your friend your order for the other restaurant while you sit there eating free bread and taking a table that could otherwise be used by a paying customer, then your analogy would apply.

Remember, gang, analogies are nothing but trouble. Using them is like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Right, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t hostile to their customers. I think we understand that the market leader doesn’t have much to gain financially by helping its competitors.

And I’m still not sure what competitive advantage they get from disallowing cross play. Do they imagine that people are going to buy Sony consoles so they can play Fortnite with their friends? Sony already requires a subscription to enable multiplayer. What more do they need? I must be missing something here.

Yes, probably they do. And they’re probably at least a little right.

I can see the business case for not allowing it, only in that, from a financial perspective, allowing cross-play almost entirely benefits Microsoft since it makes it easier for people to choose to buy a non-PlayStation console.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not anti-consumer.

The thing is, as a consumer, crossplay is beneficial. It means I can more easily play against other people.

Certainly I understand why Sony hates crossplay. They want to prevent anyone from using any other system.

But, to me as a consumer… I don’t really give a shit. Sony’s actions are actively hostile to me as a consumer. The fact that I can understand the source of their motivation doesn’t negate the hostility.

They didn’t at the time. F2P games were free to play on Playstation, sub required on other consoles.

Yes. The network effect is a huge part of console sales traditionally.

Sony has never required a subscription for free to play games on PlayStation.

Yeah the perspective is important here. From the Shareholder or Sony Employee perspective Sony’s decision surrounding crossplay is great since it increases revenue.

From a consumer perspective Sony’s policies/decisions here are bad and anti-consumer. Full stop.

In this exchange between Phil Spencer and Tim Sweeny, Tim says the following:

It’ll bring together current and potential gamers in real-world social groups: college dorms, hight school classes, even kids, as only Minecraft has done so far. We want to work with Microsoft to unblock all console-mandated interop restrictions in time for this launch. I’m confident we’ll achieve this with the other guys and, at any rate, platforms that block interop will be siloed.

While that is somewhat PR-speak Tim is right here. During the COVID Pandemic family members, school friends, and sports friends have been meeting up within games a lot more since that was the safest. My son has been attending birthday parties in Minecraft where they play Minecraft and have a Zoom window open to also chat with each other. Fortnite became a meetup spot for my son with friends and family where they talk and socialize while playing a few matches. In both cases participants are playing on all 3 consoles and even mobile devices if their family doesn’t own a console or gaming PC. Crossplay was critical here to be inclusive of everyone regardless of tech access or means. If we were limited to just one platform it would have sucked and been isolating to some participants.

I’m glad Tim was able to use the massive success of Fortnite to break the shitty Sony policies here. It made the COVID Pandemic much more tolerable for families and children.

That said, Microsoft’s previous policy of requiring an Xbox Live Gold subscription for F2P games was also bad, and anti-consumer. That was rightly criticized and thankfully changed.

Looking at the emails, Sony didn’t care about Fortnite’s massive success, it was cash that convinced them. Of course if nothing else comes out of this case, it made Sony look horrible to consumers.

Right. They didn’t break up their policies so much as pay them off.

Well, let’s just say it was both. Lots of other companies had approached Sony about cross-platform but had been turned away, and they might have agreed to pay if Sony had asked.

Fortnite’s scale forced Sony to offer a face-saving, revenue-generating solution.

The email chain indicates that Epic’s trouble was twofold: Fake accounts were easy to make, and it couldn’t deactivate games on other storefronts—the so-called “clawback” option—which meant that games remained playable through Uplay even when the associated Epic account was deactivated.

“We believe fraud to be due to account re-selling being viable,” Epic COO Daniel Vogel wrote at the time. “Fraudster creates Uplay account, uses stolen CC to purchase The Division, and then sells the account. While Epic account gets disabled by chargeback, without clawback with Ubisoft the game is still available on Uplay and sold account works.”

Epic’s Scott Adams was blunter in his criticism of the store. “Doesn’t help that we don’t currently verify email address or have good account security,” he wrote.

“In the past 48 hours, the rate of fraudulent transactions on Division 2 surpassed 70%, and was approaching 90%,” Sweeney wrote on May 11, 2019, the same day Epic halted purchases on Ubisoft games. "Sophisticated hackers were creating Epic accounts, buying Ubisoft games with stolen credit cards, and then selling the linked Uplay accounts faster than we were disabling linked Uplay purchases for fraud.

“Fraud rates for other Epic Games store titles are under 2% and Fortnite is under 1%. So 70% fraud was an extraordinary situation.”