Connect your players with Epic Account Services

Rajen Kishna, Technical Account Manager, Epic Games |
June 16, 2022
One of the challenges that comes with making games available on multiple storefronts and platforms is unifying your player base for crossplay multiplayer. With the release of the Epic Online Services SDK 1.15, it is now easier than ever to tackle this challenge. The new SDK can now help you:
 
  1. Streamline the player authentication process – across multiple storefronts and platforms
  2. Enable friends to find and connect with one another
  3. Maximize your game’s matchmaking pool(s)

SDK 1.15 simplifies these tasks on Windows PCs across the Epic Games Store and Steam. Future SDK releases will expand this support to consoles, macOS, Linux and mobile platforms.

Let’s dig into each of these areas of crossplay to learn what’s available and how you can take advantage of the free capabilities now included in Epic Online Services.

Streamline the player authentication process

When you’re dealing with multiple storefronts and platforms, you have to work with multiple account systems and social graphs. Developers have leveraged Epic Account Services for quite some time now, as part of our free Epic Online Services. Now, Epic Account Services can be used as the account system that connects your players across multiple platforms and storefronts.

Prior to SDK 1.15, games that offered Epic account authentication and linking to their native account (the native account being their Steam account on Steam, for example), exposed players to the somewhat jarring experience of being taken to a browser outside of the game to log in to their Epic account and/or link it to their native account. 

With SDK 1.15, this entire flow now happens in game and the overlay handles Epic account logins (via the EOS_Auth_Login API) and linking Epic accounts to native platform accounts (via the EOS_Auth_LinkAccount API). It also handles age verification where applicable, so you can better enable underage players to get the appropriate consent from their parent or guardian.
 
Connect Players Epic Account Services Account
Epic Account login dialog


Additionally, SDK 1.15 also offers a much more streamlined experience for players that don’t have an Epic account already. These players can create an Epic Proxy account, which links their native account to a new Epic account without having to fill in any details such as an email address, name, password, etc. Players can complete their Proxy accounts at a later date to add their details, and link with other platform accounts.

Enable friends to find and connect with one another

The Epic Account Services APIs have always enabled authentication, presence, and friend listing. What’s new in SDK 1.15 is the API to add friends directly from within your game, using EOS_Friends_SendInvite. Using this API, you enable players to add people who they have previously played in a match with to their friends list. We wanted to make sure players were always in control of their friends lists, so this API is only made available now that the Social Overlay asks players to confirm the add-friend action. EOS_Friends_AcceptInvite and EOS_Friends_RejectInvite APIs are also available, to enable in-game friend management functionality.

To make integrating the Social Overlay easier, with SDK 1.15 we have decoupled the Overlay from the Epic Games Launcher, so the Overlay is now packaged in a separate redistributable with games that you publish on storefronts other than the Epic Games Store. Once installed, the Overlay will update itself, so you don’t have to worry about updating it with your game. You can use the new EOS_Platform_GetDesktopCrossplayStatus API to verify that the overlay is ready to use.

SDK 1.15 and the Social Overlay also streamline the crossplay experience for players that play your game on Steam by displaying their Steam and Epic Games friends lists in a single view, once the accounts are linked. This makes it even easier for friends to play together, regardless of the platform their friend connection exists on.

Connect Players Epic Account Services Overlay Steam Updated
Epic Social Overlay displaying Epic Games and Steam friends
 

Maximize your game’s matchmaking pool(s)

A big challenge with multiplayer games across storefronts and platforms is they typically use separate matchmaking services. These services only apply to that specific storefront or platform, effectively shrinking the available matchmaking pool. Epic Online Services offers free matchmaking services in two flavors:

  • Sessions: You can use the Sessions Interface to integrate matchmaking into your game. Sessions are used for client authoritative matchmaking (for example, server browsing) that are controlled by the host (peer-to-peer or dedicated server). Once a match is made, control is handed over to the host for the actual multiplayer session.
  • Lobbies: The Lobbies Interface is similar to Sessions, but you use Lobbies to coordinate teams, game options, and player attributes, rather than just matchmaking. It provides persistent connections to other players that can be used for real-time data exchange, hosted by Epic. You can also augment Lobbies with voice chat using the Voice Interface.

Using these services, you can make matchmaking and multiplayer available across all supported storefronts and platforms in a way that makes sense for your game. Want to have all console players play together? You can do that. Does separating PC and console pools work better for your game? You can do that too.

Using Sessions or Lobbies in combination with the Social Overlay enables seamless cross-platform game invites and game joining for friends.

Get started

To get started implementing these features into your game, head on over to the Developer Portal to set up an organization and product, and download the SDK. Make sure to take a look at our comprehensive documentation or my getting started blog series to get up and running quickly.

And if you want to see a real-world example of all of this in action, stay tuned for a blog post by my colleague Joe Graf. He’ll detail the process of updating an existing title to use Epic Online Services, adding crossplay between the Epic Games Store and Steam.

If you have any questions or need help implementing Epic Online Services, head on over to the Community Forum and start a conversation.

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