|Launch date||September 8, 2010|
|Initial release||July 25, 2012|
|Stable release||1.0 / July 25, 2012|
|Preview release||2.0 / June 2, 2014|
|Operating system||OS X 10.8|
Game Center is an online multiplayer social gaming network released by Apple Inc. It allows users to invite friends to play a game, start a multiplayer game through matchmaking, track their achievements, and compare their high scores on a leader board. Game Center was originally announced on April 8, 2010, and became publicly available with the release of iOS 4.1 on September 8, and in November, became available in iOS 4.2 for iPad. The service underwent a major update in October 2011, for iOS 5, including support for turn-based matches.
On February 16, 2012, it was announced by Apple that Game Center would be integrated into the latest version of OS X, Mountain Lion, set for a July 25, 2012 release. Some games can now share multiplayer functionality between the Mac and iOS versions of the app.
Gaming became a major part of the iOS platform when Apple launched the App Store on July 10, 2008. Unlike the console systems that were currently on the market, Apple had no unified multiplayer and social system for their platform. This gap was soon filled by third parties, such as, OpenFeint, Plus+, AGON Online and Scoreloop. These third parties had control over the online gaming environment and with multiple third parties involved, it left a non-unified experience.
Game Center was announced during an iOS 4 preview event hosted by Apple on April 8, 2010. A preview was released to registered Apple developers in August. It was released on September 8, 2010 with iOS 4.1 on iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 2nd generation through 4th generation, and is included with iOS 4.2 on the iPad.
An updated version of Game Center was released with iOS 5 that featured the addition of turn based gaming, player photos, friend suggestions, and achievement points. The latest update featured in iOS 6 released with the iPhone 5, is an advanced version of Game Center. With selected Game Center games, Game Center runs in the background, ensuring that the player is connected to Game Center, prompting them at multiple times and even after repeated attempts to disable it.
From within Game Center, players can connect with friends, send friend requests, start playing games and organize online multiplayer games. The number of friends that can be connected to a single Game Center account is limited to 500. Some games may feature achievements, where for completing a certain task, the player is rewarded points. Depending on the game, a leader-board may be present where a player can compare his or her score with friends or the world.
Many iOS games use Game Center, but not all of them use every feature. Apps can choose to include any or all of the following features supported by Game Center:
- Leader-boards – compares scores with the player's friends and with other players from around the world
- Achievements – shows goals that can be accomplished by the player and also allows the player to compare with friends' achievements
- Multiplayer – the game can host matches in real time, either between the player's friends or by "auto-matching" with random players from around the world
A nickname (or alias) is the player's username on Game Center. Nicknames are limited to 30 characters. They must be unique, but are allowed to be changed by the player in account settings at any time. A nickname can be used as a search term for a player when another player is performing a Game Center friend search.
A player must establish an Apple ID to associate with a Game Center nickname. A player has the option to create an Apple ID from within Game Center if he or she does not already have one. Only one nickname may be associated with an Apple ID at any given time.
Points are awarded to players as a part of Game Center's achievement tracking system. Players can earn points by meeting specific in-game challenges. Players cannot use the point for anything other than to rate progress in games. It was developed so players can socialize and compete against each other.
Each player is assigned a profile in Game Center. A profile consists of the player's nickname, the number of Game Center-compatible games the player owns, the number of friends the player has, the number of achievement points a player has, and an optional photo (iOS 5 or later) and player-defined status.
The devices that can run Game Center are iPod Touch 2nd generation and later (iOS 4.1 or higher required); iPhone 3GS and later (iOS 4.1 or higher required); all models of the iPad (iOS 4.2 or higher required); and all Mac computers running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.
There is no support for the iPhone 3G, original iPhone, and the original iPod Touch. However, Game Center is unofficially available on the iPhone 3G via jailbreaking. OS X Mountain Lion added support for Game Center on Mac computers.
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