iPhone Game Center: OS 4’s Most Revolutionary Feature?

By  |  Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Reading the coverage and comments on iPhone OS 4, I’ve seen some sentiment that Apple isn’t really doing anything fresh, and is merely catching up on features already offered on other mobile phones. That’s true for some things, but not with iPhone Game Center.

The service will be a social networking layer for iPhone games. Players can invite their friends to multiplayer games, and in lieu of friends, they can use a matchmaking service to find other players. There appear to be achievements for in-game tasks, which accumulate in a sort of meta-game, and there are online leaderboards as well.

As a list of bullet points, Game Center is nothing new. It’s more or less a clone of Xbox Live, which offers all the same features. Even on the iPhone, the existing Plus+ and OpenFeint networks offer friends lists, achievements and leaderboards.

So, why is this revolutionary? Because there isn’t a single mobile gaming platform that’s already doing it. Sony dropped the ball when it said last year that the PSP won’t support achievement-like trophies, and there’s no platform-wide invite feature that encourages players to jump between games. Nintendo’s just oblivious when it comes to online gaming, and Microsoft, which arguably could do great things with Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7, will still be months from launch when iPhone Game Center arrives.

Predictions are always risky, but I’d be surprised of other phone platforms and portable consoles don’t scramble to follow Apple’s lead. You can’t say that about multitasking, folders and customizable wallpapers.

 
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3 Comments For This Post

  1. NickAVV Says:

    As a published iPhone game developer I was very excited to hear about this. I was contemplating whether I should bother implementing OpenFeint or Plus+, but now I’m going to hold off.

  2. Jordan A Says:

    This is definitely a big move by Apple. Game Center is going to streamline the user experience significantly, which is always beneficial in building a platform. Social communities such as OpenFeint and Plus+ seemed to be mentioned alongside this Apple announcement due to the redundancy of many of their services, but it seems like the major aspect of “Xbox Live for the iPhone” is being ignored: Multiplayer.

    While Z2Live offers many advanced community tools even beyond what Game Center will, we’ve also put heavy emphasis into the multiplayer arena; an area that has been historically ignored by other game communities in the iPhone space. Looking back at the progression of PC and console gaming, we can see that the gravitational pull away from solely single player experiences towards multiplayer is inevitable. While Apple has been a little vague on the extent of their multiplayer involvement, our SDK and backend services are allowing developers to build real-time game sessions today, host them on our servers, and engage in voice chat from device-to-device.

    For those developers anxious to check out how multiplayer can change their strategy for gamebuilding, check out z2live.com and play around with the SDK.

  3. Thom Says:

    here are a few related mobile game apps http://www.mimvigames.com

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