One concern some players may have over the rise of Epic Games’ store is the fragmentation of multiplayer communities. If someone receives a game for free on Epic, they may ask whether they can play it with friends who bought it on Steam. Epic’s new development tools aim to address this issue.
Epic Online Services crossplay was released to developers last week to help them keep Steam and Epic gamers together. The toolset isn’t part of Epic’s Unreal Engine, so any game running on any engine can use it.
The crossplay system can link users’ Steam and Epic accounts, combining friend lists and game invites. It can also update without requiring players to patch the underlying game. Developers can choose which crossplay features they want to include or leave out.
Epic’s crossplay tools currently only work across their client and Steam, but they plan to support other platforms eventually. That will include other PC game stores first along with macOS and Linux. Later, Epic’s crossplay could come to console and mobile. Many games already implement crossplay between all these platforms, but this new effort could make the feature even more widespread. Crossplay is available in Epic Online Services SDK 1.15.
Additionally, Epic has added game ratings and polls to its PC game client. Like shopping carts, this is one important feature that the company was surprisingly slow to implement. After two hours of play, users can rate a game on a 5-point scale. Epic will also start presenting random players with polls containing questions about a game’s various qualities like graphics or difficulty.
This added functionality shows that while Epic’s store is still catching up with Steam in some areas, it’s trying to differentiate itself in others.