You know, I don’t really have time for this. I’m supposed to be busy building BOT. Yet, I read something that really annoyed me. It was an article by Dan Frommer. He’s a Senior Staff writer for The Business Insider. He mainly writes articles about Apple. I like the site and I generally like reading his articles. But yesterday, he had an article published on CNN that I felt was a bit unprofessional. It was entitled – Apple’s Three Biggest Weaknesses. I’m not a blind fanboy. Critiques are important for growth, but the words about Game Center didn’t seem to be in accordance with journalistic standards.
In the spirit of quality journalism, I’ll state my bias immediately. I’m a full-time iOS developer. I make money by making apps for the iTunes App Store. Yet, I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t a successful place to be. Also, I know that Apple isn’t perfect. As an example, I think iAds is a weak performer. I’m not going into the details here. But if you search online, you can find lots of developers complaining about it. I don’t see many developers complaining about Game Center. It’s actually the exact opposite. Game Center is highly regarded amongst my peers. That’s why I was surprised to read this…
Apple has tried to do “social” a bit with Ping, its social network based around iTunes music, and GameCenter, its social gaming service. They aren’t huge hits. Apple has not been able to go as deep integrating Facebook or other social networks into its products as some Android devices or Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 have.
WHAT?! Why is Game Center being lumped in with Ping? How is Game Center (two words, with a space) not a success? As a consumer of iOS apps, I look for the Game Center logo. It adds lots of enjoyment to my games. It seems that lots of people agree, as many of the top iOS games already support Game Center.
- Angry Birds? — Yup!
- Tiny Wings? — Yup!
- Fruit Ninja? — Yup!
- Cut the Rope? — Yup!
- Osmos? — Yup!
- Street Fighter IV? — Yup!
So, it seems that the developers are on-board with Game Center. What about the players? Do they like Game Center too? It would seem so. If you have a copy of Angry Birds, you can check this for yourself.
- Load up Game Center
- Press the Games button
- Look at the leaderboard ranking for Angry Birds
- I’m currently ranked #127,750 out of 9,702,705
Perhaps a screenshot will better illustrate the situation…
For a service that is less than a year old, how is Game Center not a success?! That’s my problem with Dan’s article. If you want to bash on Ping, I’m not likely to defend it. That’s not my area of expertise — but I do know games. Apple has built something amazing here. It should be encouraged, because it’s exactly what developers need to build great games. Instead of wasting our time reinventing the wheel, Apple has already done all of the heavy lifting. They have taken the lead and set some standards. I don’t need to worry about creating a system for leaderboards, achievements, networking or voice chat. Apple already did that for me. They’re earning their 30% commission.
And as a player, I enjoy Game Center. I like playing against other players in Fruit Ninja. I like beating my top score in Tiny Wings. I like collecting achievements. For 99¢ games, the quality is quite competitive with console / PC games — AND IT’S JUST GETTING STARTED!
What does Android have that’s even close to this level for gaming?! As for Windows Phone 7, their XBOX Live integration is a smart move, but they don’t have the numbers to make it interesting for me as a mobile developer.
If Game Center is not a success, then what is the standard? The article doesn’t state that, which is why I think it falls short of journalistic standards. It’s cool to write about your opinions, but the message is more powerful when backed up with facts. That’s what I’ve presented here. In just seven months, top developers and millions of players are using Game Center. If that’s a failure, then what’s success?