GameCenter is Apple's answer to the absurd fragmentation of the iPhone gaming world. It is trying to become the X-Box Live of the App Store, the go-to place for high scores, achievement badges, and game invites. Unfortunately for many of the other services out there, such as Plus+ and Crystal, if GameCenter takes off, their existence could be coming to a screeching halt.
OpenFeint, one of the pioneers in social gaming in the App Store, has another idea. Instead of waiting for extinction, they are tapping into a market that Apple can't touch: Android. With many of their supported games being released cross platform, OpenFeint has decided to let iPhone users and Android users coexist in game matchmaking harmony.
The new system works primarily by SMS and e-mail, allowing for a user to invite their friends to an OpenFeint supported game. With the insane expansion of the Android market, having the ability to play against someone over there seems rather tempting.
“One glaring problem with today’s mobile gaming community is how fractured it is across platforms, OpenFeint is bridging the gap between gamers,” says Peter Relan, Executive Chairman of Aurora Feint. “As we expand cross platform this summer, we’re going to roll out services that will help friends that use different device platforms play against each other.”
In my eyes, what system I am playing on doesn't matter in the least. While I generally prefer the ease of use of OpenFeint as opposed to the other systems, I don't choose my games based on that. Apple's game center is appealing to me just because I expect the interface to be nice and pretty, but if I can have my high scores stacked up against a bunch of Droid lackeys, I'll be much happier.
It'll be interesting to see which service game developers end up going with, and if Apple's plans for iPhone unification work out. It sure seems to me that OpenFeint is making a pretty strong push with its cross platform integration.
I'm also putting a $50 bet down that Apple will somehow ban the use of rival game platforms, citing that it will become extremely confusing for customers. Watch out!