Epic Games have already managed to do something not many companies can brag about - change Sony's mind in regards to cross-play. Now however, they announced that Fortnite's cross-play technology will be made available to all devs, for free.
The company wrote that launching and operating online games requires services that are "expensive to build, test and harden in real-world conditions, but once operational, are relatively inexpensive to scale to more games and more users."
Fortnite's plague-grade expansion required intricate infrastructure that would normally be out of reach of most developers, but not anymore. Epic will be rolling out their cross-platform services for all developers, for free.
"These services will be free for all developers, and will be open to all engines, all platforms, and all stores", the company wrote. Developers are left to choose whatever combo they wish, mixing and matching the services they want.
Starting in the second quarter of 2019, Epic will be offering cross-platform logins, friends, presence, profile, entitlements, data storage and cloud-saved games across PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PlayStation, Xbox and Switch platforms. This will ensure core functionality for player recognition on different platforms, item management, etc.
Cross-platform achievements and trophies are coming in the third quarter of 2019, along with cross-platform voice comms. Epic will start rolling out parties and matchmaking services in the same quarter, but the announcement says it will spill over into the fourth quarter.
Also coming in the third quarter is the PC/Mac Overlay API, which "provides a user interface for login, friends, and other features in a game-agnostic, engine-agnostic way." Epic pointed out that this is just the beginning and they're likely to have more announcements on social features, anti-cheats and user-generated content.
Ultimately, there's no doubt that sharing Fortnite's cross-play capacities is Epic's gift to gaming - going multiplatform will be as easy as wishing it, for indies and giants alike. In contrast, Valve and Steam seem to be in more trouble with each successive announcement by Epic and it remains to be seen how Gabe and Co handle this.
You can find Epic's full announcement here.