While the Epic Games Store doesn't support Linux or Steam Deck officially, this industry news is something we should all know about with Epic now opening up self-publishing along with some new rules for their store.
Just like Steam, developers will be able to put their games up on the Epic Store for $100 per-game. However, they have a rather interesting rule when it comes to multiplayer games. In their announcement, they mention how multiplayer titles "must support crossplay across all PC stores" so that "any store can easily connect with other players, regardless of where the game was purchased".
Their reasoning is sound, as there's no good reason to lock online play per-store, and on Linux in the past the problem was even worse, with certain ports from Aspyr Media and Feral Interactive having multiplayer locked to Linux or Linux and macOS with Windows being by itself. I have absolutely no problem with Epic's online play rule at all, as it's actually great for us players.
Developers publishing on the Epic Store are free to use whatever method they wish for this, which is obviously good but rolling your own cross-play can be expensive and difficult. So, this will be another way for Epic Games to push their Epic Online Services which supports Linux, macOS, Windows, consoles and mobiles and provides the likes of voice chat, achievements, matchmaking and more. Compare that to Steamworks from Valve which, while feature-filled, is for Steam directly.
So for developers publishing on multiple stores for online games we're likely to see a lot more of Epic Online Services, or various other launchers and services being used even on Steam directly. We've already begun to see more of that and it will only continue to be a bigger thing now.
In a chat with PC Gamer, Epic's Tim Sweeney noted: "They have a classic lock-in strategy where they build these services that only work with their store, and they use the fact that they have the majority market share in order to encourage everybody to ship games that have a broken experience in other stores," Sweeney said. "And we were bitten by this early on with a number of multiplayer games coming to the Epic Games Store. Steamworks didn't work on our store, so they had either a reduced set of multiplayer features or none, or they were just limited to a much smaller audience back in the launch days of the Epic Games Store, so you had a lot of multiplayer games that really felt like they were broken. And remember, Call of Duty went through a debacle launching on the Windows Store a while back in which you could only matchmake with other Windows Store players, and that is not how PC should work.".
Not just an issue for Epic, it's a problem GOG have too and they're much smaller so this rule Epic have is likely to benefit GOG releases as well (as long as their Galaxy API plays nicely with others…).
It will be interesting to see if Valve have any plans to expand Steamworks to be more cross-platform. I've reached out to Valve press to see what they have to say, if anything. Will update if I get a reply on that.
What are your thoughts?
On paper what Sweeney says has always sounded nice, we will see how it works in practice.
While cross-store cross-play is nominally good for games and gamers, I don't feel particularly inclined to sign up for a store that only supports Windows. :/
In my ideal dream world we'd have an open source and distributed system for connecting, matchmaking, etc. with federated servers, such that even open source games could integrate the library for online play. I'm pretty sure it's all solved problems technically (STUN/TURN, DHT, etc.), it just needs someone/s to roll together the functionality into an easy and openly licensed API. I just don't have the energy or drive to even start experimenting with that right now. :(
That said, now I'm going to have to be careful and check to see that games are not using EOS, lest I go through the motions only for refund. I screwed around for most of the evening trying to get Returnal to launch, it was the EOS services... I was having IPC issues, the launcher wouldn't even get off the ground. It looked like it was glibc related (I had just upgraded glibc the day before that... latest kernel API headers too and a GNU bootstrap after that). It could be the kernel itself too, I'm always on the latest release (or "mainline" in the case of a .0). I've not had any trouble with anything else I've been trying to do, so pfft to that...
P.S. Middleware is trouble, I don't care who it is, EA, Epic, Ubisoft, all of that can stuff up perfectly good games from launching. The difference is that Valve makes sure theirs works for us.
Last edited by Grogan on 9 March 2023 at 6:04 pm UTC
Quoting: RomlokDo the Epic Online Services require one to have an Epic Store account to use?(
Nope, at least Returnal from Sony was transparent. Perhaps, because it was a Steam release, Sony found a way to pass in my SteamID? But if it did, it didn't tell me.
Epic is a hard no from me. I don't mind if games incorporate EOS into their offering, but if they ever get to a point where they ask me to login to an Epic account, or even register my SteamID against an Epic account, I'm out.
Sadly, I suspect that's their end-game: get EOS on as many games as possible, then enforce a login. That's the kind of person Sweeney is.
Quoting: GroganThat said, now I'm going to have to be careful and check to see that games are not using EOS, lest I go through the motions only for refund.There is a Steam Curator called "Epic Games S*cks", where * is a vowel, who does this for you.
That's just bad. Looks like I'll have to check closer as to what games bundle even more now.
QuoteIn a chat with PC Gamer, Epic's Tim Sweeney noted: "They have a classic lock-in strategy where they build these services that only work with their store, and they use the fact that they have the majority market share in order to encourage everybody to ship games that have a broken experience in other stores," Sweeney said.
He says that as if you are obligated to ship your game on Steam using Steamworks, not to mention that Steamworks predates all those other stores... Disingenuous Tim Sweeney strikes again. 🤦♂️
Quoting: BigRob029This sounds like it could be a win for Linux gamers in the future. Or at least a small win for Linux gamers with friends that play on other operating systems. I'm worried that the linux versions of games we could have will end up functionally nerfed like Rocket League.
As an avid RL player, I can tell you that the windows version through proton (or wine if you're playing it through the epic store) is not limited in any way. The native Linux and MacOS clients were dropped, but are not required in the slightest anymore with Valve's work on proton/wine, dxvk, etc.
That's not to say that the windows client has been perfect. It got substantially more resource demanding when it was updated to use dx11 instead of dx9. Thankfully it is substantially better than it was a year ago - it has since been refined and optimized enough to run quite well on the Steam Deck (I normally play it at 1080p 60fps) and it is Steam Deck Verified.
FYI: RL at this point does not use Easy Anti-cheat, which is something I'm very happy about. One less thing to worry about potentially breaking the game for us Linux users.
Last edited by lectrode on 9 March 2023 at 8:50 pm UTC
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