Sweeney asked Xbox to time free multiplayer launch with Epic’s first Apple attack

The big Epic Games v. Apple case finally saw the inside of a courtroom this week, and it’s been anything but dull. Day one granted us insight into Epic Games’ financial history, and it looks like day two is giving us a peek at Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s email outbox.

One particular exchange shared by the court captures a conversation between Sweeney and Xbox head Phil Spencer in which Sweeney asks Spencer to consider timing a major change to Xbox Live Gold to line up with Fortnite‘s Season 14 launch, something he covertly notes would see Xbox benefit from the coming war with Apple.

“Long ago, we talked optimistically about the possibility of subscription-free multiplayer on Xbox,” writes Sweeney, referring to Xbox’s plans to remove the Live Gold requirement from free-to-play games on Xbox. “If this is coming, please consider the possibility of timing the program to support Fortnite Season 14 launch on 8/27.”

Season 14 of course is when Epic dropped the match and set its calculated plan against Apple into motion by adding an unsanctioned-by-Apple payment method into Fortnite, then rapidly filing a lawsuit against Apple once the tech giant pulled Fortnite from the App Store for breaching the App Store Guidelines.

In the email, found here, Sweeney also vaguely alludes to the coming storm, telling Spencer that “Epic has certain plans for August that will provide an extraordinary opportunity to highlight the value proposition of consoles and PC”, to “expect events throughout August to draw the specific opportunity into focus”, and that Xbox will “enjoy the upcoming fireworks show”.

It’s quite a big ask from Sweeney, but that’s something he wholly acknowledges in his email pitch. In his own reply, Spencer was receptive to a future partnership with Epic on the Xbox Gold free-to-play front, but notes that the company wasn’t quite ready to make the change at that point in time.

“We will get there and I want to partner with you,” wrote Spencer.

Xbox would of course go on to announce that big change to Xbox Live Gold, but not in time for Sweeney’s big Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite firework show last year. Instead, Xbox announced the change officially in early 2021 and finally launched it for all Xbox players just this April.

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