Sunday, April 11, 2010

Editorial: How Will Game Center Change iPhone Games?

Earlier this week, Apple announced the all new update to iPhone known as iPhone OS 4.0. It will be released this Summer for iPhone and iPod Touch and this Fall for iPad. Some of its most important new features include multitasking, the ability to organize apps into folders, change the wallpaper, iBooks, and iAd, a new way of doing mobile advertising. For gamers, the new app and feature known as Game Center may change how games are played on iPhone.

Game Center will be a unified social gaming network from Apple. You will be able to invite friends to games, do matchmaking, look at leaderboards, and score achievements. It pretty much has all of the standard features one would expect from a social gaming network. It will work with any game that wants to support it. I think it is great that Apple has listened to its fans and saw just how many games are on the App Store and how many different social gaming networks there were on iPhone. Having one unified account will make things so much simpler but in the beginning, there might be some problems.

There are already numerous social gaming networks on the platform. The most popular include Plus+ from Ngmoco and OpenFeint by Aurora Feint but there are a handful of others. According to Scott Forstall, SVP of iPhone software and Apple CEO Steve Jobs during a Q and A after the press event, they stated that some of these networks wanted Apple to create one unified service. They were not specific on who asked. Many of those in charge of some of the most popular gaming networks on iPhone stated that they loved the idea of Game Center and want to support it. Will the existing social gaming networks on iPhone die? Yeah, they probably will. My only fear is that my achievements from other games of the different gaming networks will not transfer over to Game Center. Apple should work on a way for other social gaming networks to migrate a user's account with their progress and achievements. This might be the only way to ensure Game Center is the only network on iPhone.

Games will be sure to come out on the network and offer easy ways to get achievements. The ability to see other games that your friends are playing might persuade you to buy a game in order to play it with others. It will be easier to find out what friends are playing and boost the sales of games on iPhone. Game Center has a huge opportunity to help games and social networking become even better on iPhone.

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