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Epic's multiplayer systems are now available for other devs to use for free

(Image credit: Epic Games)
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Epic announced in 2018 that it would make the multiplayer systems it developed for Fortnite available free for every developer to use, and today it's completed that task. The full software development kit is now available (opens in new tab), providing the "essential framework" for friends lists, matchmaking, lobbies, and other cross-platform multiplayer services for games made in any engine and distributed on any store. 

What Epic is offering is divided into two parts: Game Services and Epic Account Services. The Game Services are things like matchmaking, lobby, leaderboard, and stat tracking systems. The Epic Account Services are for developers who want to let players sign into their game and find friends using their existing Epic account.

Why is Epic giving its multiplayer technology away? For one thing, it can. "We built these services for Fortnite and are now operating at enormous economies of scale," Epic wrote in an FAQ, which is another way of saying that you can give stuff away when you've made as much money as it has.

Of course there's a long term strategy, though. Aside from "encouraging wider adoption of all of Epic's offerings," if other developers accept Epic account logins in their games, the company's launcher and store gain another potential user, or someone who already has an account gets more use out of it. To be clear, though, there is no requirement that says developers must integrate with Epic Account Services to use any of the other multiplayer functionality.

You can find out more about Epic's Online Services SDK here (opens in new tab). Epic also unveiled Unreal Engine 5 today, with a tech demo that shows off impressive new rendering and lighting technology. 

Tyler Wilde
Tyler Wilde

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley alongside Apple and Microsoft, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early personal computers his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. After work, he practices boxing and adds to his 1,200 hours in Rocket League.