Yesterday’s announcement of the Apple Game Center was exciting news for serious iPhone OS gamers: it’s a defragmentation move by Apple to consolidate all of the many social gaming services like OpenFeint, Plus+ and others. Gamers can expect a uniform social gaming experience across all their iPhone games with features like universal friends lists, matchmaking and achievements.
There’s a lot to like here, but you’d expect the people behind the existing systems to be upset. Not so: OpenFeint and Plus+ are thrilled by Apple’s move. Why? They anticipated it, and have been moving their networks in the direction of supporting the freemium model of selling virtual goods in ostensibly free games as a way to profit.
“OpenFeint X is currently built on top of OpenFeint and in the future it will also sit on Apple’s Game Center social graph, achievements and leaderboards so developers and gamers don’t miss a step,” said Jason Citron, CEO of Aurora Feint, in a press release. “Apple is a key partner and we are delighted that they have validated the first half of the OpenFeint vision and we can now fulfill the second half: OpenFeint X and Virtual Goods based Social Games.”
ngmoco’s Simon Jeffery said the same thing about Plus+: “Plus+ is all about empowering monetization and discoverability mechanisms for the development community, and we have clearly demonstrated with games like We Rule that these mechanisms work.”
There’s no point crying over spilt milk, but it’s still nice to see that these guys realize the real money is in virtual goods, not achievements. A consolidated social gaming network that plays well with their own freemium games and virtual good shops is a huge win all around.