Games developers looking to create cross-platform title have been granted free use of a suite of tools created by Fortnite developers Epic.
Launched last month, Epic Online Services makes features such as cross-play, cross-progression, plus unified matchmaking and lobbies available across multiple platforms including Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Xbox.
Support for Android and iOS is promised to be coming “soon”.
The firm says it’s made the tools available for free in order to help boost the availability of cross-platform play, a feature likely to become increasingly important to the future of online gaming as developers seek to maximise the lifespan of titles.
Already many dedicated fans of specific titles struggle to find online matches within a few months of release as players flock to the latest rival title, this not only reduces the playability of existing purchases but risks reducing the desirability of new titles with players unwilling to pay the high asking price for games which could become unplayable within a period of weeks.
The rise of services such as Google’s Stadia and increasingly powerful mobile phones could potentially worsen the situation by spreading players across a greater number of devices and platforms.
Such problems can be avoided by embracing cross-platform gaming, creating a win both for developers – who can continue to enjoy sales months or even years after a game’s initial release – and players who get more value from their purchases.
“At Epic, we believe in open, integrated platforms and in the future of gaming being a highly social and connected experience,” said Chris Dyl, general manager of online services at Epic Games, in a company statement.
“Through Epic Online Services, we strive to help build a user-friendly ecosystem for both developers and players, where creators can benefit regardless of how they choose to build and publish their games, and where players can play games with their friends and enjoy the same quality experience regardless of the hardware they own.”