Apple Announces "Game Center" Social Gaming Network
As a part of the iPhone OS 4.0 preview today, Apple announced their new Game Center: a social networking platform for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. With indie networks like OpenFeint and Plus+ growing in popularity, and social gaming taking off on networks like Facebook, Apple is showing another sign that it's serious about gaming on the iPhone OS platform.
Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iPhone software, previewed the service at today's event. “We do automatic matchmaking,” he said, highlighting how Game Center would allow gamers to "find others with a similar ability and match them against you." In a nod to one of the more popular features of systems like ngocomo's Plus+ and OpenFeint, Forstall noted how the system would allow gamers to track stats other than high scores or levels: "you can see how you’re progressing in a game with achievements,” he said.
Mention was made of "50,000 games," which is the total of all
games on the iPhone OS platform, not just multiplayer games. The clear implication here is that Apple will be enabling you to link all your gameplay directly to your Game Center account, and enable groups to share leaderboards and achievements for a whole array of games, potentially providing an enormous boost to a range of single- and multi-player titles.
Game Center will launch with iPhone OS 4.0 this summer, and will be available for iPhone and iPod touch immediately, with the iPad version to be released in the autumn.