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Epic Games offers multiplayer tools free to developers

Voice chat and anti-cheat support are now among the free services Epic Games is offering to game developers, the publisher announced on Tuesday. The services are touted as the same ones supporting huge online hits like Fortnite and Rocket League.

“Operating voice communications and anti-cheat in a popular online game can cost millions of dollars,” Epic said in a news release. The company said it’s offering its services free in hopes that “more developers [will] build cross-platform games.”

Epic has been at the vanguard of cross-platform play, using the dominant popularity of Fortnite to overcome Sony’s resistance to letting PlayStation consoles play with other platforms three years ago. (Of course, that did come with monetary concessions, such as paying royalties that Sony expects to cover lost business. And Sony itself took a $250 million stake in privately-held Epic last summer.)

Epic’s Voice and Easy Anti-Cheat are part of the package now offered by Epic Online Services, a development toolkit originally built for Fortnite. “These new free tools will further establish Epic Online Services as an industry leader in backend services for game developers,” the company said. Epic Online Services also includes support for matchmaking, leaderboards, and multiplayer lobbies.

Epic called Voice “battle-tested in Fortnite, offering players a built-in cross-platform solution to chat and play with their friends.” Easy Anti-Cheat, introduced in 2018, can “handle millions of users at peak times,” Epic said.

Since 2015, Epic has offered its Unreal Engine free for any developer to use, with royalties assessed on games that make above a certain gross revenue. Unreal Engine 5 launched in early access to developers less than a month ago.

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