Epic Games has always been a major voice in promoting crossplay support in games, which would let players in any platform join together for multiplayer without being restricted to their own hardware ecosystem. Now, the company is taking a another step in making the process easier for developers as part of an update to its Epic Online Services platform.
Announced today, the same free tools that the company released in 2022 for PC platforms and launchers are now being expanded to the console space. Xbox, Switch, and PlayStation games are now supported for implementing crossplay using Epic's toolset.
The original PC release enabled developers to bring together players from Steam and Epic Games Store to be in a single pool of candidates for multiplayer, may it be via matchmaking, inviting directly, or joining server manually.
The highlight of this system is the special overlay that enables developers to "authenticate players, streamline friend management, and provide game invite and joinability functionality that’s designed to be compliant with native platform requirements."
"Anyone that’s ever developed a crossplay game knows that there are a lot of elements that go into making it feel seamless," says Epic regarding its tools for game developers. "With the crossplay overlay, any game can enable players to sign in to their Epic Games account on all platforms and easily interact with their friends. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included."
Here's a roundup of the Epic Online Services' crossplay-related features:
- Consistent overlay UX. An out-of-the-box overlay that provides a familiar player experience on PC and console platforms.
- One combined friends list. Friend lists across platforms merge into one overlay, enabling players to see and invite their friends in one place.
- Frictionless cross-platform account creation. Players can start playing quickly using their existing Epic Games account or a new one that’s created for them, linked to their active native platform account.
- Integrated game invites. In-game, players can search and send game invites to friends across platforms, making connecting and playing together easy.
- Secure social experience on any platform. Implements the native platforms' trust, safety, and privacy guidelines, in addition to Epic's own trust and safety controls.
- Plug-and-play SDK. Each Epic Online Services toolset is self-contained, so developers can mix and match the services they want to implement, incorporate what they want, and leave the rest. Crossplay tools are no different.
Back in 2017, Epic famously, and "accidentally", enabled crossplay between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles for its mega-hit battle royale experience Fortnite. This was back when Sony was pushing against enabling the feature for its platforms. Though compared to back then, it's relatively common to see crossplay-enabled multiplayer games nowadays, especially from AAA developers. Perhaps Epic's new tools will help smaller developers implement to popular feature more easily to have a seamless playerbase.