Epic Games, creators of Fortnite and the ubiquitous Unreal Engine, have announced they’re going to be releasing a set of free, cross platform tools that will allow developers to let their players play together across different platforms, with all the functionality their own game has. The announcement comes only days after Epic revealed their own digital storefront, which offers developers a better deal than most of the competing options. Scroll down to see a full list of services they’ll be releasing, and when you can expect them.
The most important thing about the whole suite is that it’s going to be store-and-engine agnostic. This means that if you’re a developer, you’ll be able to use this stuff for free, regardless of the engine you use, or the storefronts you decide to publish on.
The first batch, which is going to appear on PC in the second or third quarter of 2019 (other platforms later the same year) will bring features like cross platform login, friends lists, “entitlements” and player profiles. It should lay the groundwork for all the rest, letting people connect across devices and buy stuff that persists across platforms on the same account.
Then there’s the PC/Mac overlay API, which is coming in Q3 2019, and it’ll provide a UI for logging in, friends lists and other features. Then comes cross-platform voice chat, parties and matchmaking, cloud saves and data storage, then finally achievements and trophies.
It seems like Epic is very serious about trying to compete with Steam. They’re offering most of the stuff people like about Steam (and more), and they’re being a champ by not tying it to their own store or engine. The idea here is probably to try and weaken Steam’s grip on the PC game marketplace instead of trying to take them head on.