Epic Games Wanted Subscription-Free Multiplayer On Xbox Already In 2020!

Hold on: it looks like Tim Sweeney might be the reason why Microsoft has recently dropped the Xbox Live Gold subscription requirement for free-to-play online multiplayer games!

The Epic GamesApple case is happening in the United States as we speak, and many documents have come to light in the past couple of days. For instance, here’s an email from August 5 2020, where Sweeney, the CEO of Epic Games and Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, „talked optimistically about the possibility of subscription-free multiplayer on Xbox.” Sweeney asked Spencer if this was still planned and if it’s possible to coincide the timing to the launch of Fortnite’s Season 14 (the Marvel event that kicked off on August 27( as well as a price drop coming in mid-August.

„Epic has certain plans for August that will provide an extraordinary opportunity to highlight the value proposition of consoles and PCs, in contrast to mobile platforms, and to onboard new console users. While I can’t share details with any third party at this point, I give you Epic’s assurance that our efforts will be positive and supportive of Microsoft, Xbox and Windows. […] Expect events throughout August to draw the specific opportunity into focus,” Sweeney wrote.

These events kicked off on August 13, when Epic announced dodging iOS’ and Android’s microtransaction system (so that they won’t take the 30% cut), resulting in Fortnite getting kicked from both platforms, and this is the reason why Epic Games took Apple to court. Spencer replied to Sweeney on August 6, 2020, apologising for not responding sooner due to, among other things, „our back and forth with Apple,” which seems to be a hint at Microsoft’s struggle to get xCloud approved for iOS (which is now available only via a browser on Apple’s platform!). He told Sweeney that Microsoft is committed to the policies, including free-to-play multiplayer for non-Gold members, and he also mentioned that he hasn’t given up on bringing xCloud to other consoles either. In Sweeney’s reply on August 7, he said „You’ll enjoy the upcoming fireworks show.” (This comment has been discussed before in a Wall Street Journal article in April, and it seemingly was brought up in the court, too.) This is why Microsoft stood by Epic Games. (Unreal Engine is used by many Xbox Game Studios, and Apple tried to block Epic’s dev accounts of iOS and Mac, and it would have hindered the teams working for Redmond, too!)

Sweeney was questioned by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. Epic Games wants Apple to allow third-party software in its ecosystem, allowing direct microtransactions without Apple’s cut. According to Reuters, she asked Sweeney a question: „So you don’t have any idea how what you are asking for would impact any of the developers in those other categories of apps, is that right?” Sweeney’s reply: „I personally do not.”

Remember, she is the same Judge who has previously warned the outcome of this case could have some „serious ramifications” for other games platforms, including those operated by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, and this question implies that the consequences would not only impact the gaming industry but other apps in general as well. Epic is a member of the Coalition for App Fairness, which is against Apple’s 30% cut, as well as the exclusivity that the Apple App Store has.

This case is getting more and more serious…

Source: Gamesindustry, Gamesindustry

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