Apple's surprise announcement of their new social gaming network caught a lot of people by surprise. Most affected by the news were the many social gaming networks that have sprung up on the iPhone over the past 3 years.

OpenFeint was the earliest iPhone Gaming Network and remains the largest one in terms of active developers. We caught up with Jason Citron, founder of OpenFeint, and asked him his reaction to the news (full interview embedded below). OpenFeint seemed to be taking the news in stride and has already issued a press release indicating that they are refocusing their product behind OpenFeint X which was announced this past February.

Personally, Citron believes the move is "a really good thing" for gamers, as he acknowledged that the fragmentation in the market has been difficult for users. In the long run, he expects developers will adopt Apple's solution for leaderboards and achievements. He reports, though, that they plan on continuing to support OpenFeint's implementation and will offer developers and users an easy migration path to Apple's solution when it ultimately goes live. But Citron points out that OpenFeint offers a lot of additional features that don't fall under Apple's Game Center, the most significant one being a OpenFeint X which offers developers tools to build free-to-play games with micro transactions. This so called freemium model has been massively successful on Facebook and is making its way to the iPhone.

Ultimately, Citron believes that they will be able to tie in their features into Apple's Game Center which will allow for a single consolidated login, but from there they can build additional features for developers. He hopes to migrate other OpenFeint features (such as replays) to the new system, but details will have to wait until Apple releases more information about Game Center.

Citron wanted to reassure developers that they are continuing to support OpenFeint and will offer migration paths when Apple finally launches Game Center.

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  • Jim

    And take your ugly-leafy-icon-ruining icon with you.

  • Jim

    And take your ugly-leafy-icon-ruining icon with you.

  • drunknbass

    you do realize branding your apps icon with openfeint logo/frame is up to the apps DEVELOPER not openfeint right?

    • Jim

      Yes, but I don't see why I can't still pretend to be angry over trivialities.

    • TKO

      Sure, but they all bloody do it. Ugh, I'm sick of those leaf icons polluting all my icons. Only one (one!) of the many open feint games has been kind enough to not include the leaf on the on-phone icon.

      I'd be happy to see Open Feint gone tomorrow if only to get rid of that damned leaf. :)

  • drunknbass

    you do realize branding your apps icon with openfeint logo/frame is up to the apps DEVELOPER not openfeint right?

    • Jim

      Yes, but I don't see why I can't still pretend to be angry over trivialities.

    • TKO

      Sure, but they all bloody do it. Ugh, I'm sick of those leaf icons polluting all my icons. Only one (one!) of the many open feint games has been kind enough to not include the leaf on the on-phone icon.

      I'd be happy to see Open Feint gone tomorrow if only to get rid of that damned leaf. :)

  • http://www.callboxlive.com Stan Winstone

    He's being nice about it but it's hard not to see how he'll be out of business within the year...

    • Adams Immersive

      Hopefully his company’s other services—and their own game titles—will be successes. Best of luck to them, and thanks for the service!

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      I think they'll do fine. They were super fast to adapt something useful when the App Store was first announced. They've been successfully and fluidly adjusting to things since.

      I'm glad he thinks it's going to be possible to use a single login to get to his extra features. That's what I was hoping for these guys right after the announcement. It's preferable to everyone, I think, since things have been so fragmented.

      With the GameCenter at the erm... center, these service providers can focus on what they uniquely offer. They might not even step on each others toes too much. Maybe games will be able to support OpenFeint, Plus, and others all at the same time. Each for different services. Maybe. ;)

      Overall though this is just great news for users and developers in general. Apple has also built in time for devs to give feedback as the service develops. It will be awhile before it arrives. Nicely handled, really. Gamers should be vocal to their favorite devs about what they want in a service like this, so the info can be passed along to Apple, and then OpenFeint and the rest can fill in the blanks Apple doesn't want to.

    • Ridgecity

      If he was to say something bad, even if it's the obvious, the service would be banned by tomorrow for the app store.

      If Apple tells you to jump you respond "how high, sir?!?!"

  • http://www.callboxlive.com Stan Winstone

    He's being nice about it but it's hard not to see how he'll be out of business within the year...

    • Adams Immersive

      Hopefully his company’s other services—and their own game titles—will be successes. Best of luck to them, and thanks for the service!

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      I think they'll do fine. They were super fast to adapt something useful when the App Store was first announced. They've been successfully and fluidly adjusting to things since.

      I'm glad he thinks it's going to be possible to use a single login to get to his extra features. That's what I was hoping for these guys right after the announcement. It's preferable to everyone, I think, since things have been so fragmented.

      With the GameCenter at the erm... center, these service providers can focus on what they uniquely offer. They might not even step on each others toes too much. Maybe games will be able to support OpenFeint, Plus, and others all at the same time. Each for different services. Maybe. ;)

      Overall though this is just great news for users and developers in general. Apple has also built in time for devs to give feedback as the service develops. It will be awhile before it arrives. Nicely handled, really. Gamers should be vocal to their favorite devs about what they want in a service like this, so the info can be passed along to Apple, and then OpenFeint and the rest can fill in the blanks Apple doesn't want to.

    • Ridgecity

      If he was to say something bad, even if it's the obvious, the service would be banned by tomorrow for the app store.

      If Apple tells you to jump you respond "how high, sir?!?!"

  • http://micro Yuggle

    I don't think open feint will survive this.

    Apple is greedy and powerful and it makes good business sense for them to eat this cake too.

    • Uldis Melns

      They wont survive because service they provide where slow, ugly an painful. I tried using them but get frustrated every time. Thank you very much!

  • Yuggle

    I don't think open feint will survive this.

    Apple is greedy and powerful and it makes good business sense for them to eat this cake too.

    • Uldis Melns

      They wont survive because service they provide where slow, ugly an painful. I tried using them but get frustrated every time. Thank you very much!

  • Steve

    Thankfully, this will be the end of ugly pointless open-feint logos ruining nice app icons.

    • Nigra

      and the start of ugly pointless game-center logos ruining nice app icons :D

      • Evil ghandi

        And the begining if a game service that actually works

  • Steve

    Thankfully, this will be the end of ugly pointless open-feint logos ruining nice app icons.

    • Nigra

      and the start of ugly pointless game-center logos ruining nice app icons :D

      • Evil ghandi

        And the begining if a game service that actually works

  • Ahiru

    good luck to them, OpenFeint has been my favorite over these years, but frankly i'm getting tired of all these social gaming networks - the Game Center news almost made me want to quit iphone gaming until its release.

    but finally, playing big budget games will finally have a "purpose" with achievements and leaderboards - such as EA, Square-Enix, Gameloft (even though they have their own XBL-wannabe, it's rather lame since it's only their games), Rockstar's GTA and many other top-notch games that i own but haven't layed a finger in order to play a lot other games pursuing achievements and deleting them afterwards.

  • Ahiru

    good luck to them, OpenFeint has been my favorite over these years, but frankly i'm getting tired of all these social gaming networks - the Game Center news almost made me want to quit iphone gaming until its release.

    but finally, playing big budget games will finally have a "purpose" with achievements and leaderboards - such as EA, Square-Enix, Gameloft (even though they have their own XBL-wannabe, it's rather lame since it's only their games), Rockstar's GTA and many other top-notch games that i own but haven't layed a finger in order to play a lot other games pursuing achievements and deleting them afterwards.

  • http://www.geocade.com Jim c

    Let's be real. This will hurt if not destroy all services that are primarily social networks on iPhone including Openfeint. Ngmoco's plus+ will be hurt but that is only a small division under Ng anyway. Those platforms that have diversified by supporting multiple platforms (Geocade) have a chance to live but this will still be a very large challenge.

    To say that game center is not a cause for concern is BS plain and simple.

    One correction - Geocade was the first open social platform for the iPhone and Android and Blackberry and continues to support over 20 million game downloads across those platforms.

  • http://www.geocade.com Jim c

    Let's be real. This will hurt if not destroy all services that are primarily social networks on iPhone including Openfeint. Ngmoco's plus+ will be hurt but that is only a small division under Ng anyway. Those platforms that have diversified by supporting multiple platforms (Geocade) have a chance to live but this will still be a very large challenge.

    To say that game center is not a cause for concern is BS plain and simple.

    One correction - Geocade was the first open social platform for the iPhone and Android and Blackberry and continues to support over 20 million game downloads across those platforms.

  • Lukeb

    I wish Openfeint the best of luck. Even if it had no social features, it would still be the best score-tracking system, and was worth using for that alone.

  • Lukeb

    I wish Openfeint the best of luck. Even if it had no social features, it would still be the best score-tracking system, and was worth using for that alone.

  • Cause007

    Apple's game center will be a very good thing. However, why not hire Citron for building and maintaining (periodic updates) Game Center, since he's been doing this for several years already and has implemented much more than Apple is planning.

    • TKO

      They might have asked him. {shrugs} Apple often buys the talent and brings them in-house for new products/services - Like Apple originally wanting to buy Panic to turn Audion into iTunes, but going for SoundJam after they were turned down.

  • Cause007

    Apple's game center will be a very good thing. However, why not hire Citron for building and maintaining (periodic updates) Game Center, since he's been doing this for several years already and has implemented much more than Apple is planning.

    • TKO

      They might have asked him. {shrugs} Apple often buys the talent and brings them in-house for new products/services - Like Apple originally wanting to buy Panic to turn Audion into iTunes, but going for SoundJam after they were turned down.

  • FurryKing

    This makes me a little sad. I know that OF wasn't the smoothest thing in the universe but it got better and better with time. It was the sole social gaming platform that i supported since I believe that we really only need one.

    Well we got it, and officially at that. For whatever OF does do to make their platform better than Apple's Game Center I just see Apple doing the same eventually.

    Gosh I hate apple sometimes. Well most of the time. Great products, evil ass business though.

    • TKO

      But but ... shiny! :)

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      The only mistake Apple made here was to be shortsighted on the potential for gaming on the iPod Touch and iPhone. In other words, this should have been implemented much earlier in the life of the AppStore. It's not like people weren't asking for it everywhere. It's just Apple was only dipping its toes in the idea of supporting games at the outset.

    • Crunc

      But surely this was inevitable? Inevitable, and also a really great thing. Having multiple social gaming systems wasn't good for the platform. Perhaps people who haven't used Xbox Live or PS3's equivalent systems don't yet appreciate what having a unified system does for a platform. You will soon enough, though. And surely OpenFeint and the others had to know this was coming eventually. It's a no-brainer.

  • FurryKing

    This makes me a little sad. I know that OF wasn't the smoothest thing in the universe but it got better and better with time. It was the sole social gaming platform that i supported since I believe that we really only need one.

    Well we got it, and officially at that. For whatever OF does do to make their platform better than Apple's Game Center I just see Apple doing the same eventually.

    Gosh I hate apple sometimes. Well most of the time. Great products, evil ass business though.

    • TKO

      But but ... shiny! :)

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      The only mistake Apple made here was to be shortsighted on the potential for gaming on the iPod Touch and iPhone. In other words, this should have been implemented much earlier in the life of the AppStore. It's not like people weren't asking for it everywhere. It's just Apple was only dipping its toes in the idea of supporting games at the outset.

    • Crunc

      But surely this was inevitable? Inevitable, and also a really great thing. Having multiple social gaming systems wasn't good for the platform. Perhaps people who haven't used Xbox Live or PS3's equivalent systems don't yet appreciate what having a unified system does for a platform. You will soon enough, though. And surely OpenFeint and the others had to know this was coming eventually. It's a no-brainer.

  • Appaholic

    What an embarrassing photo.

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      What an embarrassing comment. ;)

  • Appaholic

    What an embarrassing photo.

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      What an embarrassing comment. ;)

  • Crunc

    I am all for a single social gaming system, and one officially supported by Apple. This will make it more like the Xbox, and you won't have to have multiple friends lists for multiple platforms. It's great news. OpenFeint was great while there was no official social gaming network for the iPhone, but now that there will be, I really hope that game developers will switch to it ASAP and have their support ready to go when Game Center is released.

    • mike

      totally. the bottom line is Apple has been the platform for cool games ever since the iPhone was released.... they gradually added cool network gaming capabilities over time, now its formalized.. and it will be awesome to see what this does for all the idevices...

      Not sure if this will be 'ported' to the Mac.... MS sure hasn't done anything like that on their side (eg. playing Xbox games on PC)

  • Crunc

    I am all for a single social gaming system, and one officially supported by Apple. This will make it more like the Xbox, and you won't have to have multiple friends lists for multiple platforms. It's great news. OpenFeint was great while there was no official social gaming network for the iPhone, but now that there will be, I really hope that game developers will switch to it ASAP and have their support ready to go when Game Center is released.

    • mike

      totally. the bottom line is Apple has been the platform for cool games ever since the iPhone was released.... they gradually added cool network gaming capabilities over time, now its formalized.. and it will be awesome to see what this does for all the idevices...

      Not sure if this will be 'ported' to the Mac.... MS sure hasn't done anything like that on their side (eg. playing Xbox games on PC)

  • Ethan

    Openfeint and all the others are dead in the water with 12 months. They all know it.

    Trust me, a few years from now hardly anyone will even remember them and they'll just be in the App Store history books. There is NO WAY they'll be able to compete on the same level as Apple.

    Goodbye.

    • mike

      I don't think they're competing against Apple, they can just go on with making games... leave the complicated stuff to the pros.

  • Ethan

    Openfeint and all the others are dead in the water with 12 months. They all know it.

    Trust me, a few years from now hardly anyone will even remember them and they'll just be in the App Store history books. There is NO WAY they'll be able to compete on the same level as Apple.

    Goodbye.

    • mike

      I don't think they're competing against Apple, they can just go on with making games... leave the complicated stuff to the pros.

  • Rogersanchez75

    The haters got pummeled as openfeint just got a nice $100M exit. boom suckers.