Brandon Boyer

4 Replies

After some seven hours (really!) spent giving iTunes and its glacially creeping progress bars the evil eye, the long awaited iPhone 3.0 firmware is now firmly in my hot little hands, and with it comes all the first traces of the device’s own version of social networking that’s made Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, and N-Gage such an engaging experience.

It’s anything but device integrated, mind, and expect to see the splintering grow before it consolidates. First, OpenFeint, the social networking solution first announced in February from the AuroraFeint developers (and currently implemented games like Studio Radiolaris’ Radio Flare) have duly said they’ll be supporting push notifications and in-app microtransactions in their latest version of the platform now available for developers working on games for July onward.

But, more intriguingly, ngmoco stealthily announced earlier this week a new initiative called Plus+. Unlike the current iteration of OpenFeint’s chatroom/leaderboard system, Plus+ comes much closer to Xbox Live in implementing a unified cross-game interface and profile (mine at top, feel free to add me!) that tracks your various achievements, lets you add and compare them against friends (and see which games your friends own), set status updates ala twitter/facebook (both of which will be fully integrated in a future platform update).

The system also tallies an overall point score for both unlocking said achievements or simply involving yourself in the community via invites and challenges, and — company head Neil Young told IGN — there are plans to use those points as a reward system for discounts on games and in-game items.

Currently only their Star Defense contains the Plus+ platform, but, Young said, it will be available in all games from Rolando 2 on, and there are plans to retrofit past ngmoco games with Plus+. The platform won’t be restricted to first-party published games, either: the company made its stealthy announcement alongside news that former Sega president Simon Jeffery had been hired on to head its Plus+ Publishing Group, where he’ll oversee the expansion of the system across more partner games.

And yes, that sound you heard with Jeffery’s hiring was that of the iPhone coming that much closer to the Third Handheld alongside the DS and PSP, just in case you were one of the last few who still weren’t convinced.

See more posts about: