Epic Games saw tremendous success with the launch of Fortnite: Battle Royale last year, which carried over to 2018. One reason that allowed the game to be successful is that it can be played essentially anywhere, with versions available for computers, consoles, and smartphones. Players can also play against each other regardless of what platform they're using - despite Sony's initial reluctance to allow it.
Now, Epic wants to use the expertise it gained from building those cross-platform capabilities into Fortnite to create tools that allow other developers to do the same for their games. The company detailed its roadmap for cross-platform services in 2019, which includes the availability of a wide range of tools for free.
Most of these focus on cross-platform experiences, and many of them will be available for all major platforms, including PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch. These include some of the more basic concepts, such as logging in and online presence, but it gets more advanced, with support for cross-platform voice communications, parties, and achievements. Here's the full list of services on the way:
- Cross-Platform Login, Friends, Presence, Profile, and Entitlements (coming Q2-Q3 2019 to PC, other platforms throughout 2019): Provides the core functionality for persistently recognizing players across multiple sessions and devices; identifying friends; and managing free and paid item entitlements. This will support all 7 major platforms (PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch) to the full extent each platform allows per-title.
- Cross-Platform Voice Comms (coming Q3 2019 to all platforms): Epic is building a new in-game voice communications service supporting all platforms, all stores, and all engines, which will be available for free. (For developers needing an immediately-available voice solution, check out Discord, Vivox, TeamSpeak, Ventrilo, and Mumble.)
- Cross-Platform Parties and Matchmaking (coming Q3-4 2019 to all platforms)
- Cross-Platform Data Storage, Cloud-Saved Games (coming Q2 2019)
- Cross-Platform Achievements and Trophies (coming Q3 2019)
Cross-platform login isn't actually fully working in Fortnite yet, as Epic Games recently delayed the ability to merge your accounts. Hopefully, when these tools become available, games that use them won't be afflicted by similar issues.
In addition to these cross-platform oriented tools, Epic will also be launching a game overlay API for PC and Mac, which is slated for the third quarter fo 2019.
As mentioned above, all of these tools will be available for free, which could be a huge step towards enabling cross-platform experiences in a wide variety of games. It remains to be seen, of course, if developers will embrace them, but it's good to see Epic enabling these capabilities at no charge.