As multiplayer gaming continues to exponentially grow in popularity, the ability for players to play their favorite titles with friends, regardless of their preferred platform, is becoming increasingly important. Fortunately for players that are dreaming of more pervasive cross-play support, a recent announcement from Epic, the developers behind Fortnite, suggests that their dreams may be one step closer to reality.
Specifically, Epic is making portions of its cross-platform game services free to all developers. These services, which are the foundation of Fortnite‘s cross-play support, will begin their rollout in 2019, and they will be «open to all engines, all platforms, and all stores.»
Furthermore, the company emphasizes that developers are free to take the portions of the online services that fit their needs and that all services are operated under GDPR compliance.
Epic’s announcement offers further insight into the release of these services:
The service launch will begin with a C SDK encapsulating our online services, together with Unreal Engine and Unity integrations. We’ll start with a core set of features and expand over time.
Developers will begin seeing these core features made available during the second quarter of 2019. This includes the ability for supported games to recognize friends and acquired items (such as cosmetics) across PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.
Then, in the third quarter, Epic will be making cross-platform voice communication available as well as trophies and the beginnings of the requisite support for matchmaking across the seven major platforms.
«The services described above are just our first steps,» Epic’s announcement reads. «As you can see from our game and engine efforts, we’re also working on further support for user-generated content, enhanced social features, anti-cheat, and more.»
Between this announcement and the launch of the Epic Games Store, a digital distribution platform with a focus on increasing developers’ revenue, it is clear that Epic is committed to turning the success of Fortnite into an opportunity for other developers. This sentiment is specifically reflected in this new announcement, as it states that the company’s goal is to «help game developers succeed.»
While clearly these new offerings are not completely selfless acts, and some have already leveled criticisms at the Epic Games Store for locking developers into exclusive distribution deals, many small game makers are certain to benefit greatly from them. These freely available cross-platform game services may not guarantee that all multiplayer gaming has full cross-play support moving forward, however, they will make it an option for studios that could never have considered it previously.
Epic’s full announcement is available on the company’s blog.