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OpenFeint: A Social Gaming Network on the iPhone

Bringing the flavour of XBOX Live and the PSN to Apple’s App Store

OpenFeint is a new social gaming network for games on the iPhone and iPod Touch. At the time of this writing, over 1000 games supporting the system are available at the App Store. Many older titles have already retrofit with OpenFeint functionality, including Finger Physics and Battle for Wesnoth.

Produced by Aurora Feint, known as the developer for the iPhone MMO game Arena Daemons, OpenFeint is a natural for gamers who are used to the social interaction provided by console services like XBOX Live or the PlayStation Network.

OpenFeint for the iPhone and iPod Touch Features

  • Trophy-like “Achievements” for Each Game
  • Head-to-Head Game Challenges
  • Online Leaderboards
  • Forums and Chat
  • Connect Through Facebook and Twitter

A Social Gaming Network for a Growing Market

Upon first starting an OpenFeint-enabled iPhone game, the user has the option to sign on to the social network. This isn’t a requirement, so shy gamers can still play in solitaire if they wish. Still, the achievements model is a great way to track progress through a game, providing replayability even if the user doesn’t take part in the more social aspects of the network.

An OpenFeint user-id is a track to their iPhone or iPod Touch’s device id and as such the user will be automatically recognized when they start another enabled game. The user can either click on the dialogue that pops up when starting the game or whatever button the game provides to access the social network’s menu.

The menu also allows users to browse their achievements and look at the leaderboards or challenges for the current game, or they can browse through the same information for the other OpenFeint-enabled games they have installed. Another menu leads to listings of their friends’ favourite games, games currently being featured by the network, or even some of the developers’ favourites.

OpenFeint Supports Developers

The key to success for any fledgeling social gaming network on a platform like the iPhone is providing support for developers to either existing retrofit games or to include the network functionality into new game development. OpenFeint succeeds greatly in this area with a well-documented SDK and excellent online support for developers.

The list of iPhone game companies supporting OpenFeint is impressive, and it is growing every day. Since Apple didn’t provide their own social gaming network for the iPhone as Sony or Microsoft did for their game consoles, Aurora Feint saw a great opportunity, and it looks like they are well on their way to making OpenFeint the de facto standard for social gaming on the iPhone platform.

What do you think?

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