One for the game developers now. Since the iPhone's launch and the App Store's debut, we've seen a slurry of companies take it upon themselves to create a "social" medium or space in which gamers of all ages and skill levels can communicate and interact with each other on a device to device basis. But so far, supposedly due to the limitations of the iPhone SDK, this has been restricted to three methods of gameplay for us here gamers; iPhone to iPhone. iPhone to iPod touch or iPod touch to iPod touch.
Namco, most famous for its worldwide Pac-Man franchise, have announced at GDC yesterday that they have been working on a new, different method. Unite is a cross-platform gaming technology that will allow users to play against gamers using different types of devices and machines and challenge each other in the same game. Acting very much like a social network, Unites aim is to unite gamers the world over, no matter which device they choose to play on.
"For example, an iPhone gamer could play a game against a PC player in Pool Pro Online 3. Unite will have a single login across all platforms supported by the platform. Gamers have a profile fronted by an avatar and a score, boosted by the accumulation of achievements in Unite-powered games.And having a central web site (and soon, an iPhone app) where you can manage your account should also make it an attractive alternative to developers looking for a social solution for their games."
The big news here is that unlike the current social platforms like ngmoco:)'s Plus+, Open Feint and Crystal, Namco's Unite platform will apparently allow gamers to chat live with each other during gameplay. So, as well as bringing along the ability to play non-iPhone gamers the world over, this new SDK should also bring some functional aspects of a platform like Microsoft's Xbox LIVE, for example, to the iPhone.
As with Open Feint, Namco says they'll soon have a "central" iPhone application on the store, which you can keep track of all your Unite platform achievements on the the go! Currently there is little more information known about Unite, but we'll be following this closely and keeping you up to date with news and announcements which come out of this new SDK - I'm sure you'll agree, this is pretty exciting stuff!
Source: IGN UK