Some Game Center screenshots [Updated]

Just a few hours after iOS 4.1‘s release, Firemint and Secret Exit released Game Center-enalbed versions of their games (Flight Control, Real Racing and Zen Bound 2). I own all three, and spent some time playing with them this evening. Here are some early screenshots and thoughts on Apple’s venture into social gaming.

The Game Center lists the compatible games you’ve got installed, but not until you launch/quit those games. Simply installing them won’t do it. The first time you launch an app, it registers itself with Game Center and drops a little graphic with the icon and your username.

An app’s achievements can be found in two locations: the app itself and with Game Center. Here’s a shot of Flight Control’s achievements list in both places. It’s too bad that the achievement icons are so small, as I bet they’re beautiful and I’d like to get a better look. For example, in the screenshots below, I can’t select the Safety Card achievement to bring up a detail page. It’s simply a part of the list.

Once a game is registered, it appears in Game Center’s list of available games. The “Find Game Center Games” banner launches Safari and points it to apple.com/game-center. Perhaps in the future it will list supported games, but for now it’s just a web link.

Each game gets its own great-looking page. Below are some screenshots of Flight Control in the Game Center. A full-sized icon sits atop the page (again making me wish for large achievement icons), which lists the last time you played, your place on the leaderboard, achievement history and aspect of the game (maps, levels, etc.) you recently played. The leader board is fun because it separates your friends from the global pool of players, and data can be restricted to today, this week or all time.

Just for fun, here are two screenshots from Real Racing.

Of course, the project’s success hinges on the effectiveness of the social aspects. As a gamer, I’m eager to earn achievements and brag to my friends. But will casual gamers be equally motivated? Perhaps. When looking at a friend’s page, you can see what games you have in common. If your good buddy is playing Game X, you’ll probably check it out. Additionally, Apple lets you set your status for all to see. I can already predict using it for trash talk among my friends.

Good luck to Apple and all the developers involved. Again, this was a quick post to share some screen shots and initial thoughts. So far, I’m enthused about Game Center.

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Update: There’s now a dedicated section of the App Store. I wondered how long that would take.

Apple’s Game Center [Updated]

Apple released iOS 4.1 for the iPhone and iPod touch [1. iPod touch 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS are supported.] today, and with it the much-anticipated Game Center. Much like OpenFeint, Game Center will let users compete with each other for big points and bragging rights across a number of games.

The oddity is that it launched with no supported games. I suspected that Apple would have worked with hand-selected developers like they did prior to the iPad’s release (Firemint comes to mind). I’m sure Apple is approving an onslaught of submissions right now (Touch Arcade has been keeping tabs on the process) but it’s odd that they launched the service with none.

It wouldn’t be so bad if Apple users weren’t already underwhelmed by Ping.

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Update: This is supposedly the first game with Game Center support, and I’ve played with 3 others and posted screenshots.