Games are dominating mobile content on both iOS and Android – the two most popular mobile OS’s in the U.S. In this article we look at the two most prominent mobile gaming platforms supporting on iOS, Aurora Feint and Scoreloop, to see how they get along with the new kid on the block: Apple’s Game Center.
The areas analyzed can be broken into the following components:
- Social / Community
The following table shows the main service categories mobile gaming platforms provide. All 3 are offer a variety of services
Each gaming service allows users to create an account that the player can use to login to all gaming platform-supported games on various devices. Each account stores that player’s gaming information such as games played and leaderboards etc. Scoreloop offers more seamless integration that doesn’t require user to sign up / login before hand, letting them experience the content as opposed to OpenFeint which requires initial login. Scoreloop also auto-detects users when launching a game without the requirement of account verification.
An achievement is a specific goal that developers can create for their users to accomplish within their game (for example, “find 10 gold coins” or “capture the flag in less than 30 seconds”). Your application customizes the text that describes an achievement, the number of points a player earns by completing an achievement, and the icon that is displayed for an achievement. Achievements increase competition and player retention as they can offer veteran players alternate goals within the game
Each gaming service offers customizable achievement displays that developers can embed in their games. Achievements can be showcased as badges or progress bars, through sections within the game or dialog boxes that the system increments based on progression.
Leaderboards display player standings which are determined based on point accumulation / performance. Points can simply be an arbitrary value or be in the form of time, money, levels etc.
Each gaming service offers customizable leaderboard displays including leaderboards for various categories such as location, difficulty, levels etc. that developers can use. For optimal performance, do not attempt to retrieve the entire leaderboard data for an app at once.
Community entails peer to peer networking, invitations, auto-matching, and friend interactions. All 3 gaming services support community features, some offering more advanced functionality than others. Game Center however lacks support for asynchronous gaming and challenges currently.
Multiplayer refers to gameplay involving more than 1 player through synchronous or asynchronous interactions. Game Center offers complex multi-player gaming features such as matchmaking, game servers and real-time voice chat during gameplay. Scoreloop and OpenFeint do not offer these features although OpenFeint has announced an upcoming launch of their multiplayer feature rollout called PlayTime which will offer similar features. OpenFeint also had announced OpenFeint X, their virtual goods platform, although that is still relatively non-existent.
There are a plethora of innovative features that OpenFeint, Scoreloop and Game Center offer – although most of them Game Center does not support, at least not yet. In addition, some of the features are outside the scope of iOS and into the realm of Android and other platforms (cross-platform) – an edge OpenFeint and Scoreloop maintain. The following is a rough list of most of them:
- Cross Network Ad Banners
- Featured and recommended games
- Free game of the day
- Developer newsletter
- Action Replays
- Competing with ghosts
- Developer Announcements
- P2P IM
- Cross-platform leaderboards and achievements
- Network card save option
- Game favoriting
- Geolocation leaderboards
- Social Network Support (Both score/achievements posting and friend finding) via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace
- Cross Platform Support – iOS, Android, Bada – (Leaderboards, Achievements, Player Challenges, Activity Feeds, Game Recommendations)
- Attachable Data (arbitrary data can be attached to a score, user, level etc.)
- Analytics Suite (Developers have access to deep analytics about in-game activity, user interaction and more. This helps them improve the game and monetization mechanics)
The core differences between Scoreloop and OpenFeint on iOS is that SL is enabling the fermium model with an advanced social toolset (virtual currency, goods, downloadable content and attachable data) while OpenFeint is focused on creating a promotional platform with community features such as chat rooms. The question remains of what will happen once Game Center starts providing the full suite of tools these providers are providing. Apple has the resources and the money to make this happen otherwise why would they have launched Game Center in the first place? It wouldn’t be hard for Game Center to out position gaming platforms offering social features on the iOS platform.
OpenFeint’s user base has seen a tremendous boost since Game Center launch, helping it double from 22m to 50mm registered users. According to OpenFeint’s survey, developers aren’t viewing Game Center and OpenFeint as competitive and are using both platforms for different reasons. However this is where things can become tricky. Do developers really want to integrate multiple gaming platforms for iOS? Developers are too consumed in creating kick ass content and supporting other platforms such as Android and WM7 that their desire to perform 2 gaming platform integrations for the same OS could be quite low.
We can expect OpenFeint to continue to support compatibility with Game Center and cite that OpenFeint is doing well with Game Center but will Apple do the same? Notice that Apple has been very quiet on the matter of co-existence. Both Scoreloop and OpenFeint for this reason are vying for the cross-platform market and seeing stellar results on Android. We’ll be keeping an eye out to see how both companies react and adapt to an ever-changing and exciting climate of mobile gaming.