Epic wants to make it easier for developers to implement full cross-platform online services with all the same features that Fortnite itself uses. Epic Online Services provide a set of free, cross-platform tools that let developers handle online features ranging from account logins to achievements and leaderboards.
The Epic Online Services initiative has officially launched today, and it’s available to developers “for free for use with all engines, all stores, and all account services”. So yes, while this news comes alongside the debut of Unreal Engine 5, you don’t have to be using Epic’s engine to make use of the services.
The tech includes solutions for building “lobbies, matchmaking, peer-to-peer connectivity, player data storage, achievements and stats, leaderboards, game analytics, and player ticketing”, as well as providing account services like “cross-platform accounts, login, friends, and presence”. Devs can make use of as much or as little of Epic Online Services as they need, as the services are modular and can be mixed and matched.
Epic Online Services support PC and Mac – regardless of which store platforms you’re on – alongside PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch, and will “soon” add support for iOS and Android devices. In its announcement blog, Epic says “our mission is to enable developers to achieve the quality and depth of cross-platform experiences that we’ve built for Fortnite, and to make the services available for free for use with all engines, all stores, and all account services.”
Fortnite cross-play is one of the most robust implementations of the feature out there, and one worth emulating industry-wide. It’s still going to be up to individual developers to make the feature happen – and platform holders have their own specific, weird rules for what you can do with other networks – but this rollout of services should make it much easier to make the feature happen from the development side.