Is Apple's Game Center killing your social/mobile game experience?

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apple game center Apple's Game Center service launched quietly in August, a change of pace from the usual excitement surrounding an Apple product launch. The social gaming service, designed to be a kind of Xbox Live for iOS games, clearly has limitations in its current form. While giving players a single identity across multiple games, it only supports a handful of games, cannot be loaded onto older iPhones, and doesn't yet work with games on the iPad. In short, its not yet the consolidating force it might someday be.

Even though Apple's social gaming service has yet be fully realized, you can already see the fallout happening in the rest of the mobile/social gaming industry, specifically with existing social gaming services for iPhone, such as Open Feint and Plus+. At GDC Online Austin, Aurora Feint CEO Eros Resmini says they've been making moves both to migrate to Android and other mobile platforms, as well as hedging their bets by looking for ways to make their software compatible with Game Center for iOS devices.

"If you're not thinking about other platforms today, you will be behind... I see lots and lots of iOS developers competing for the same space in the app store, and it's difficult. Android, Palm and Windows -- these other platforms are green fields."

So how is Game Center causing fear in mobile game makers? Apple's attempt to monopolize the social gaming space on the very popular iOS platform is forcing them to step away from the relatively safe confines of the Apple App Store to look toward pastures that are potentially greener, but also smaller and riskier. At the same time, current iPhone gamers that use Game Center are stuck with a lackluster social gaming service that may keep them from spending more time downloading and playing games. Or even worse, to play Open Feint or Plus+ games, consumers are forced to create multiple accounts on multiple social gaming networks and confusion ensues.

Apple should be driving a social gaming platform for the iPhone, iPod and iPad, but it needs to step up its game to make it more accessible to the mobile gaming masses, as well as find a way to work with the myriad of splinter social gaming services.
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