Adding social to mobile gaming

Recently Apple (who have no track record on succeeding with social aspects in their services) added a feature to their iOS devices called Game Center. The intention was to add a bit more competitiveness to your mobile gaming experience by making it easier to share stats and achievements with friends, take part in global leaderboards and engage in multiplayer games. By getting people onboard Apple manages to create yet a bit of stickyness to lock customers into their controlled universe.

The features of Game Center are however not new and several other firms provide similar services; OpenFeint, Plus+, Crystal, Gameloft Live, Scoreloop and AGON Online. For game developers these social layers are optional and work as a layer on top of the actual game. Some, like OpenFeint, also serve as a platform to advertise other “OpenFeint enabled” games.

I myself see a much larger benefit of using a service that goes across different mobile platforms. After all, most of my friends don’t own an iPhone, and most of the big titles try to maximise their potential market reach by porting their games to several smartphone platforms.

Which of the emerging social gaming layers that will prevail is difficult to predict, but being incorporated into numerous future games definately creates a desirable (cross OS) position for collecting valuable stats and even in-game ad placement.

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