December 13, 2018 // 11:05 a.m.
Epic Games has published a roadmap to the release of cross-platform services, originally developed for the company's own games, which will make it easier for developers to support account profiles, friends lists, voice communications, matchmaking, and achievements across PC and console platforms.
That Epic Games might know what it's talking about when it comes to cross-platform compatibility is undeniable: Fortnite, the company's cooperative survive-'em-up turned hugely successful me-too battle royale shooter, is available across seven independent platforms, including Android and iOS mobile devices. 'The game requires no login on console,' the company boasts, 'and supports multi-platform login via Facebook, Google, Xbox Live, PSN [PlayStation Network], and Nintendo accounts, in addition to Epic accounts, and supports Twitch account linking.'
Now, though, it's looking to give third-party developers a leg-up in offering the same functionality for their own games. In a roadmap update published late last night, Epic outlined the launch of an Online Services platform which will include: Cross-platform login, friend, presence, profile, and entitlement to both paid and free in-game items functionality; an application programming interface (API) for providing an overlay for login, friends, and other features on Windows and macOS PCs; cross-platform voice communications, available free of charge; cross-platform parties and matchmaking; cross-platform data storage and cloud saved games; and cross-platform achievements and trophies.
Impressively, Epic isn't tying the functionality to its in-house Unreal Engine: Everything, as far as is possible, will be made available to developers using any game engine on any platform and for sale through any store front. ' As a developer,' the company promises, 'you’re free to choose mix-and-match solutions from Epic and others as you wish.'
Things aren't quite ready for launch yet, though: Although the Online Services platform underpins Fortnite, Epic is taking time to polish things up before making it available for third-party use. The first parts of the service will launch around the middle of 2019, the company has confirmed, with most console functionality not arriving until the third quarter and the matchmaking functionality arriving last in the fourth quarter.
More information is available on the company's announcement post.