After six months of exclusivity with Epic Store, Borderlands 3 hit Steam final week with crossplay assist, welcoming a complete new cohort of Vault Hunters to convey the mayhem on PC.

And whereas on Epic and Steam customers are actually capable of play along with a flip of a change, builders at Gearbox Software have been engaged on a number of shifting elements behind the scenes for a while to make crossplay a actuality. We sat down with Gearbox’s director of platform Comb Hua to seek out out what it takes to convey a function like this to life.

“Crossplay is something Borderlands fans have been asking us for ever since we launched in September, and we’re so excited to be able to bring it to you,” stated Hua, who has over twenty years of expertise constructing distributed methods (and performs a complete lot of video video games).

And as he explains, it’s not so simple as you would possibly suppose to ship: “We’ve actually been laying the groundwork to deliver this for years. It might only look like one feature to players, but it’s actually made from a large number of components of the platform we’ve built, which is powered by AWS.

“The things that make up a feature like cross-play take time because of their unexpected complexity. To support it, you need to first support underlying components including player identities and matchmaking. Each online game store like Epic and Steam have their own system to support these features, and they take significant effort to develop on their own.”

Gearbox Software’s Borderlands 3 crossplay is built on years of AWS infrastructure groundwork

Getting impartial first-party providers to be appropriate isn’t a simple feat. Hua stated, “Whether as a developer or a player, we all want features like matchmaking, voice chat, and other social features to just work. We’ve built those features into SHiFT, but we also needed to build an intermediary solution to handle the complexities of connecting players from different places so they can focus on having fun.”

Thanks to years of expertise on co-op looter shooter gameplay with Borderlands, Gearbox was capable of create that middleman answer in-house. According to Hua, Gearbox has been working for over a decade on the infrastructure that helps tens of millions of gamers leaping into Pandora nonetheless they like and revel in most mayhem. “SHiFT is the platform we’ve built for our games, including Borderlands 3. It provides a common layer between services and supports all online and social features,” he stated.

The SHiFT Platform is a set of on-line providers that Gearbox constructed to energy its video games in a manner that allows them to supply constant options regardless of the place our gamers wish to play. Players shall be most accustomed to interacting with SHiFT to redeem codes that grant in-game entitlements, collaborating in beta exams, and utilizing it as a keyring to attach their varied accounts for constant entry and perks. However, for the final decade, this platform has additionally been quietly offering a rising set of options together with authentication, delivering hotfixes, and now, powering crossplay.

Getting gamers throughout a number of first-party providers to play collectively is one factor, however utilizing the instruments we’ve constructed to hearken to gamers and assist them no matter what they play on is what’s vital. Staying on prime of the heartbeat of your participant base and having the ability to give them the content material they need when they need it’s crucial to protecting gamers engaged in a stay sport like Borderlands 3. Hua went on to elucidate how he and his workforce are capable of sustain proactively with gamers. “Our entire SHiFT Platform is running all in on AWS to give us the scale and flexibility to keep building new and exciting content for our players and give them the best online experience possible.” He continued, “using the cloud helps us to offload the management of our infrastructure, so we can focus on making features like crossplay a reality.”

The give attention to the participant neighborhood and delivering content material they need is evident to see. Hua stated, “The independence that crossplay brings for our customers has been a value SHiFT has always highly prioritized, so when we heard fans request cross-play, we were very excited to deliver on more of this vision, and we’re grateful that AWS, Epic, and Steam also joined us to listen to the voice of the player.”

And trying to the long run, Hua stated, “We always keep a close eye on the community and look into developing new ways to engage our players. We plan to patch in support for in-game mail being sent between the Steam and Epic services, and while players will be able transfer save files manually at launch, making that process more automated is something we’re looking at. We’re committed to making crossplay a success.”

Ellie Lawson is the Customer Advocacy Marketing Manager, Games Vertical, for Amazon Web Services.