Today, Epic Games — the creator of the mega-smash hit battle royale game Fortnite — announced that it will offer a new set of free developer tools to game-makers of all kinds. The completely free software development kit (SDK) will work on games for any platform on any store running on any engine.
Did we mention that it’s all free?
So far, the SDK — known as Online Services — supports two development tools. The first is game analytics, which allows developers to keep track of what’s going on while players play their games. These stats are things such as player retention, new player counts, game launch counts, online user counts, and more.
The second tool is a ticketing system which will allow players to let developers know about any issues that might pop up for them while they play.
These two tools are already used by Epic Games in Fortnite, so you know they’re legit. Additionally, Epic promises more tools are on the way, many of which will likely launch by the end of the year:
- Player data storage: Store and enumerate arbitrary game data on behalf of authorized players.
- Player reports: Allow players to report others for positive or negative in-game behavior. Gain valuable feedback directly from the community.
- Achievements, leaderboards & stats: Keep track of individual and global player statistics, award in-game achievements, and rank players on leaderboards.
- Communications: Enable in-game communication between players across any platform.
- Overlay: Provide a unified overlay for friends and other online services that are available to players across different games and engines.
- Parties: Enable players to form groups and play together.
- Matchmaking: Set up game matches for individual players or predetermined groups.
- Player identity: Enable players to log in and connect with others across different platforms.
- Player inventory: Manage player inventories, including purchases across different game stores.
Previously, Epic Games announced the Epic Games Store, a new game-selling platform that will go up against Steam, Origin, and other internet-based merchants. It’s very likely that Epic sees this Online Services SDK as a way to encourage developers to sell on the Epic Games Store by offering them a powerful tool for free. However, even if developers only sell a product on a competing platform, they can still use the Online Services SDK.
Reportedly, Fortnite now has 250 million active players. Perhaps the next game to achieve that kind of popularity will be using this Online Services SDK.