Epic pushed Microsoft to open its Xbox network for free multiplayer games just weeks before Apple and Fortnite match. In the weeks leading up to Epic Games’ decision to circumvent Apple’s 30 percent cut Fortnite in app purchases, CEO Tim Sweeney sent an email to Xbox CEO Phil Spencer, who killed something big and asked if Microsoft could time free multiplayer with Fortnite season 14.
“Epic has certain plans for August that provide an extraordinary opportunity to highlight the value proposition of consultants and PCs as opposed to mobile platforms and onboard new console users,”
Sweeney also asked Spencer if there should be a free Xbox Live multiplayer and if Microsoft could give it time to support Fortnite season 14, the season Epic Games launched its alternative payment method that became Fortnite started the App Store.
Spencer replied that “we’re going there and I want to work with you,” and that pushing those policies was “at the highest levels” at Microsoft, but implicitly Xbox Live was not yet ready to go free multiplayer. “Completely understood!” said Sweeney in response. “I collect, there is a lot going on in Microsoft today. In any case, you will enjoy the upcoming fireworks. ”
The timing of the email is provocative given the events that followed. Had Spencer gone with the plan, it looks like Xbox could have opened Fortnite to non-gold subscribers at the same time that Apple shut down the game altogether.
The fireworks that Sweeney promised certainly started then Fortnite season 14 was launched, and it has since resulted in Epic Games taking Apple to court in an ongoing lawsuit. Microsoft eventually unlocked the Xbox Live free-to-play multiplayer last month, but it wasn’t as simple as Epic Games had hoped.
Microsoft’s removal of the Xbox Live Gold requirement came after the company was forced to reverse a price increase to its Xbox Live Gold subscriptions earlier this year. Microsoft had tried to double the price of an annual Xbox Live Gold subscription, a feature that returned. Microsoft quickly reversed the decision and offered to remove the payment wall for free to play multiplayer games.