Epic Games, which was one of the first companies behind the effort to push for cross-play across consoles, is now going further and launching its cross-play overlay for Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch. Although this doesn’t mean a bunch of additional games will suddenly support cross-play, Epic is providing developers with the tools to more easily make it happen. That could mean cross-play becomes even more common in the future.
Epic’s cross-play overlay for PC launched about a year ago, in June 2022. This allowed developers and players alike to connect their games and communities across Epic and Steam.
“Crossplay enables bigger games, bigger audiences, and growth for the global games industry. With the added support for the major console platforms, Epic Online Services now enables you to connect more players with a single overlay,” Epic said about the console cross-play overlay.
Officially called the Epic Online Service cross-play overlay, the service is now supported across Epic Games Store, Steam, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation. Epic said there are 750+ million Epic Games accounts that can now connect and play together.
“Anyone that’s ever developed a crossplay game knows that there are a lot of elements that go into making it feel seamless,” Epic said. “With the cross-play overlay, any game can enable players to sign in to their Epic Games account on all platforms and easily interact with their friends.”
With the cross-play overlay, players will see one friends list that combines lists from across platforms, which in theory should make it easier to see who is online and invite people into sessions. Game invites can now be sent from within a game to anyone, no matter what platform they are using.
Epic also stated that the social experience is “secure” on any platform because the Epic Online Services cross-play overlay uses each platforms’ native trust, safety, and privacy guidelines. Epic’s own controls are running at the same time.
For developers, cross-play support is included with Epic Online Services without any extra cost.
“Epic Online Services are battle-tested and used by hundreds of games at scale today. It supports game development using any engine, can be deployed on any store and platform, and we are committed to earning and keeping the trust of anyone who uses it,” Epic said.
In 2017, Epic Games accidentally unlocked cross-play in Fortnite between PS4 and Xbox One. While this was swiftly corrected, it demonstrated that cross-play between rival systems was not necessarily a technical issue but rather a political one between platform-holders. Today, cross-play is a widely supported feature across gigantic franchises like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and more.
Still, cross-play is not a given for every game. For example, Remnant II just launched without cross-play support, despite the original game supporting this feature.