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.
"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.