Gamers on Apple's iDevices who want to compare scores can do so pretty easily through the company's GameCenter. And crossplatform data is just starting to take off. But what happens when their friends are playing the same game on an Android phone, or the PC, or many more diverse platforms?
OpenFeint is planning to build a much larger bridge to solve the problem. The company has announced the private beta launch
for OpenFeint Connect, an API solution that will allow developers to use OpenFeint's features on any app store -- for any device -- and incorporate its game data much more easily.
While the system, based on RESTful APIs, will not support cross-platform play, users will be able to compare scores on a centralized leader board and find new friends regardless of the system they use.
Developers, meanwhile, will be able to send a single widespread message to players of their games to alert them to updates.
"We believe games should connect people, regardless of what device or mobile OS they own," said Jason Citron, founder and CEO of OpenFeint.
"With the release of OpenFeint Connect, we give game developers the flexibility they need to take their games and game data to players everywhere."
Since the API is more universal, it will allow OpenFeint to support a number of devices beyond iOS and Android, including Windosws Phone 7, PCs and the Mac App Store. Through OpenFeint Connect, developers can access the platform's biggest features without having to use an Open Feint-built client, the company says.
In other words, developers who focus on Facebook games or even apps for smart TVs will be able to leverage the same features as those on iOS and Android systems.
The size of the Facebook gaming market is well known, but smart TV apps are at the very beginning of their life cycle. Television manufacturers signaled their intention to jump onto the bandwagon at this year's CES -- and while the number of games and enabled sets is currently small, it's expected to grow over the coming years and could become another notable outlet for app developers.
"We think this provides developers with the best way to expand their portfolio without waiting for us to build a native SDK for that service," Eros Resmini, VP of Marketing for OpenFeint tells Gamasutra. "This is an accelerator for developers. We think it is a great, flexible way to give them what they need."
Launched two years ago today, OpenFeint has grown rapidly thanks in part to the explosive growth of iOS devices. The service currently boasts 65 million users -- an increase of 20 million in the last four months alone. It is currently included in over 4,700 games, including Fruit Ninja
and Pocket God
The service has been restricted to the two largest mobile gaming services, though -- and, in fact, only became available on Android devices last September. OpenFeint Connect, which has been in closed alpha for over a year, will make the service much more flexible.
The company notes, though, that the rollout will be a cautious one. "This is very tricky technology," says Resmini to Gamasutra. "We're really looking to bring on developers who want to bring the platform to interesting new places."
In its short history, OpenFeint has been a darling of investors. In October, it closed an $8 million round
of funding led by Intel Capital, the global investment arm of the semiconductor giant, and Chinese MMO operator The9. That follows earlier funding rounds of $4 million and $3.66 million.