Epic pushed Xbox boss to open free multiplayer right before Apple Fortnite battle

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Microsoft’s response to Epic. Epic’s email to Microsoft.

Sweeney also asked Spencer whether free Xbox Live multiplayer was coming, and whether Microsoft could time it to support Fortnite season 14, the season Epic Games launched its alternate payment method that got Fortnite kicked off the App Store. Microsoft’s removal of the Xbox Live Gold requirement came after the company was forced to reverse a price hike to its Xbox Live Gold subscriptions earlier this year. Microsoft had attempted to double the cost of a yearly Xbox Live Gold subscription, a move that backfired. Microsoft quickly reversed the decision and offered to remove the paywall for free-to-play multiplayer games.

The fireworks show that Sweeney promised certainly kicked off when Fortnite season 14 launched, and it has since resulted in Epic Games taking Apple to court in a trial that’s ongoing. Microsoft did eventually unlock Xbox Live free-to-play multiplayer last month, but it wasn’t as simple as Epic Games had hoped. Source

The timing of the email is provocative, given the events that followed. Had Spencer gone along with the plan, it seems likely that Xbox could have opened up Fortnite to non-Gold subscribers at the same time that Apple was shutting out the game entirely. Spencer replied that “we will get there and I want to partner with you,” and that pushing these policies was “at the highest levels” at Microsoft, but implied Xbox Live wasn’t ready to go free multiplayer just yet. “Totally understood!” said Sweeney in response. “I gather there’s a lot going on at Microsoft nowadays. Anyway, you’ll enjoy the upcoming fireworks show.”

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