Epic is launching a "large set" of cross-platform game services – originally built for Epic's battle royale juggernaut, Fortnite – to provide free, "mix-and-match" solutions for all developers, regardless of platform, store or engine.
Acknowledging that launching and operating a live, online game requires "a suite of services that go far beyond the functionality of a traditional game engine," Epic maintains that while these systems are expensive to "build, test and harden in real-world conditions," once live, they're "relatively inexpensive" to scale to more games and more users.
"At Epic, our goal is to help game developers succeed," says the company's press release. "Throughout 2019, we’ll be launching a large set of cross-platform game services originally built for Fortnite, and battle-tested with 200,000,000 players across 7 platforms. These services will be free for all developers and will be open to all engines, all platforms, and all stores. As a developer, you’re free to choose mix-and-match solutions from Epic and others as you wish."
The service launch commences with a C SDK encapsulating Epic's online services, together with Unreal Engine and Unity integrations. It will launch with a core set of features and subsequently expand over time, along with further support for user-generated content, enhanced social features, anti-cheat, and more.
Here's the full feature list, including Epic's 2019 roadmap:
- 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.
- PC/Mac Overlay API (coming Q3 2019): Provides a user interface for login, friends, and other features in a game-agnostic, engine-agnostic way.
- 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)
The service operates primarily on Amazon Web Services' global data centres to ensure it has the "high reliability and wide international reach required by the next generation of online and socially-connected games."
"Epic has put huge efforts into building services for Fortnite that reach 200 million players across seven platforms," said Epic's Tim Sweeney. "Now we’re working to open up these services to all developers on all platforms, all stores, and all engines for free."