Can you play online with epic and Steam?

Epic Online Services has released a free cross-play tool for developers which allows players on Epic and digital marketplace Steam to play which each other. 

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The news was posted on the Epic Games website and reported on by PC Gamer. The post reads, “Today, we are launching a new cross-play tool for game developers—starting with PC. This service is the first in a series of plug-and-play cross-play services that give developers everything they need to connect their game and community across platforms and stores.”


The post then goes on to state that Epic Online Services works “seamlessly” on both Steam and Epic Game Store, with development to “natively support more PC stores” being underway, along with “macOS and Linux support for desktop”, and cross-play support on console stated to be coming later.

Epic Online Services also includes an overlay that merges Steam and Epic friends list, making it easier to view friends on both platforms. It also comes with an interface to search for friends, send and receive friend requests, and join multiplayer sessions across the storefronts.

Senior Director of Online Services at Epic Games, Simon Alleays, celebrated the tool along with Epic’s recent cross-play efforts: “We are in the fortunate position to drive change in the industry with cross-play tools for all developers and we believe that connecting friends and communities will take the gaming industry to its next major growth spurt and its next billion players.”

This comes on the heels of Epic bringing cross-play to popular multiplayer titles such as Fortnite, Rocket League, and Fall Guys.

In other news, Frostpunk publisher, 11 Bit Studios, has announced a new project currently titled Project Vitriol. It comes from Fools Theory, a developer comprised of AAA developers who had previously worked on The Witcher 2 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. 

One of the ways Steam wormed its way into every inch of PC gaming was by releasing useful tools that make developers' lives easier. Epic would like their Epic Games Store to also be wormy, and an early step is, hey, still about Steam. The Epic Online Services SDK 1.15, released this week, includes tools that let developers enable crossplay between players on Epic Games Store and players of the same game on Steam.

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"Epic Online Services crossplay now works seamlessly on Steam and Epic Games Store, enabling Steam players to search from over half a billion friends, connect and play," says a post explaining the feature set on the Epic developer site.

If you employ Epic's Crossplay tool in your game, then players can access an in-game overlay that puts their Steam friends (hundreds of people, for me) and Epic Games Store friends (literally just one person) all in one place. The two groups can then send game invites to one another and play together.

Interestingly, it sounds as if Steam players hopping into a game with an Epic Games Store player will have "an Epic Games account... created under the hood for their Steam account." These "Epic Proxy accounts" can then be completed with extra details later, if the user wishes. The cynical result, of course, is that games released via the Epic Games Store can access playerbases on more popular stores (Steam), while Epic Games Store also gets more users with half a foot into the Epic ecosystem. The non-cynical result is: cool, it's easier to play games with pals.

The post also says that support for other digital storefronts is coming, along with Linux and MacOS support for desktop, and crossplay with consoles.

Life without crossplay was a sad time for online gaming with friends. With many games releasing across multiple platforms and your mates buying their preferred mode, meeting up to take on the big boss was more complicated than it should have been. Of course, crossplay is an increasingly common feature in our favourite games but there are still hurdles even with just PC gaming. Epic Games fans have not been able to team up with their Steam buddies. Until now. 

What is Crossplay? 

Quick and easy: crossplay is the ability to play the same game across different platforms. For example, one friend is playing Rocket League on the PlayStation 5, another is a die-hard Nintendo fan and using the Switch, whilst you are playing from your gaming PC. All three of you are able to meet up and play against or with each other thanks to crossplay. 

The quality-of-life feature for all.

Steam/Epic Games Crossplay 

Despite both being PC gaming platforms, until recently, you could not play with a friend who’d downloaded a game from Steam if you’d purchased the same title from Epic Games. This is due to the fact that when developers port their games to different stores, each has their own set of services and account systems. As a result, crossplay was not possible because the systems were not interoperable.  

As of June 16th 2022, that has changed. Epic Games has released the first in a series of plug-and-play crossplay services, making it easier for developers to get their games connected across as many platforms as possible. 

What does this mean for gamers?

Nice and simple, it means that you and your friends can play together whether you bought off Epic Games or Steam. 

Here’s what Simon Allaeys, Senior Director of Online Services at Epic Games, has to say about the feature: 

“Crossplay gives all friends the opportunity to come together and create fond memories across interactive experiences. We are in the fortunate position to drive change in the industry with crossplay tools for all developers and we believe that connecting friends and communities will take the gaming industry to its next major growth spurt and its next billion players.” 

Simon Allaeys, Senior Director of Online Services at Epic Games

Epic Games has created an in-game overlay that features your friend lists from both platforms. All you have to do is invite your friend to play. Additionally, this overlay will feature a search function, enabling you to send and receive friend requests, and join multiplayer games from whichever platform it’s played. 

Steam or Epic Games, your session will work seamlessly. No need for additional accounts or hefty patch updates. 

The Future of Gaming 

In their full blog, Epic Games is very clear that this is only the beginning. They are developing this feature to work across other stores, macOS, and Linux. There are even plans to include consoles and mobile devices after that.  Very exciting times for cross-platform squads and their gaming goals.