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