Licensees of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 will now have a one-stop solution for integrating online multiplayer gaming into any PC or PlayStation 3 game, thanks to a new agreement between Epic and GameSpy, a leading multiplayer online gaming technology company.

GameSpy will join Epic’s Integrated Partners Program, and its technology will be immediately available to any publishers or developers that license Unreal Engine 3. Epic is based in Raleigh.

Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the most popular licensed game engines in the world. Companies such as Electronic Arts, Activision, Midway, THQ, Sony Online Entertainment, Chair Entertainment, BioWare, and Gearbox Software are using the technology for games. Other companies, including Virtual Heroes in Research Triangle Park, are using the Unreal Engine 3 for Serious Games, such as the U.S. Army’s America’s Army game.

The combination of Unreal Engine 3 and GameSpy’s online options will bring new functionality to Unreal Engine 3 licensees, including cross-platform gameplay between PC and PS3 gamers, communication tools and competition applications.

The first games to integrate the new GameSpy technology include the fall releases “Turning Point: Fall of Liberty” from publisher Codemasters and developer Spark Unlimited and “Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway” from publisher Ubisoft and developer Gearbox Software.

“GameSpy is the leader in multiplayer gaming technology and has a vast amount of experience in developing rich and sophisticated multiplayer systems with community and commerce features that Epic and its Unreal Engine 3 licensees can directly benefit from," said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games. "Having GameSpy integrate their technology into our engine and provide direct support for our licensees is a huge value-add for Unreal Engine 3.”

Some of the technology now available to the wide array of developers and publishers using Unreal Engine 3 include GameSpy’s matchmaking system, which makes it easy for gamers to find suitable opponents in one large community of PC and PS3 players. Other GameSpy technology includes the "comrade" in-game middleware and desktop technology that enables seamless in-game to out-of-game community features, such as instant messaging, in-game voice communication, and friend rosters In addition, "sake" allows developers to store data securely online, enabling gamers to build extensive player profiles and maintain game statistics. Rounding out the online experience is "ATLAS" (advanced statistical system for dynamic leaderboards and tournaments), which works both within the game world and on the Web.

“GameSpy is committed to working together with Epic to address a broad range of needs for the connected gamer, including multiplayer matchmaking, in-game and out-of-game messaging, persistent player communities, and competition systems,” said Jamie Berger, senior vice president of consumer products and technology for IGN Entertainment, which owns GameSpy. “Over the past months we have fully integrated a broad suite of GameSpy online technology in Unreal Engine 3 and have built a fantastic working relationship with Epic. We look forward to extending that relationship with a number of new technologies customized for Unreal Engine 3 to be introduced over the next 12 months.”

In additional to providing multiplayer online features, GameSpy will also join Epic Games’ Integrated Partners Program (IPP). The IPP program establishes a formal business relationship with selected companies making cross-platform technologies, which integrate with, and are complementary to, Unreal Engine 3. Under the IPP program Epic provides continuous Unreal Engine 3 source code access and full technical support to IPP members. Companies who join the IPP agree to provide a high level of technical support for UE3 licensees through Epic’s established support channels, keep their implementations up-to-date with the latest UE3 versions, and work with Epic on potential promotional and co-marketing efforts.

Utilized by each of world’s top 10 game publishers, GameSpy’s technology is accessible on eight different game platforms and featured in more than 500 current titles. GameSpy currently has over 19 million registered users. The company, which is a division of Fox Interactive Media, is now bringing this technology and expertise to Epic’s many Unreal Engine 3 clients.

The reason Xbox 360 games are not included in this cross-platform approach is because Microsoft’s Xbox Live is a closed online world, whereas Sony’s PlayStation Network is an open online world. Moving forward, gamers will be able to compete in the same game across PS3 and the PC. With the growth of online gaming, which is now a staple in both PC and console games, the integration of this technology will play a key role in the development of current and future games.