Epic has managed to blaze some cross-platform trails thanks to the success of Fortnite, and now the studio plans to share the technology that has powered this service with other developers – for free. The tools will roll out through 2019, and will be available to devs regardless of their engine choice or other back-end technologies.
Cross-platform profiles, friends, logins, matchmaking, and cloud saves are all on the way, and will support play across seven platforms: Windows, Mac, Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, iOS, and Android. Epic will also provide an overlay API for PC to manage profiles in a “game-agnostic” way, and the studio is building tech for cross-platform voice chat too.
One of the most interesting details is support for cross-platform achievements and trophies, scheduled for launch in the third quarter of 2019. This could mean unified achievements across platforms, so trophies earned on PlayStation could translate over to Xbox or Steam. It at least means that developers will have free access to the tech that can make it happen, but it’ll be up to platform holders to allow or reject those measures.
That caveat will apply to most of these initiatives, though. Games like Rocket League and Minecraft have enjoyed a wide pool of players engaging between PC, Xbox, and Switch, but it took pushback from Fortnite’s massive playerbase to get Sony to agree with cross-play against other console platforms. Leadership and priorities change at the companies that run these platforms, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll allow the cross-platform dream to truly come true.
But Epic’s release of these tools breaks down technology barriers and gives developers access to a set of tools that have already worked very well with Fortnite. The official site provides more details on the scheduled rollout, but the tools should all be available by the end of 2019. Hopefully this all means that cross-platform support can soon be an expected feature rather than a pleasant surprise.