Apple’s Game Center for iPhone a preemptive strike on Windows Phone 7
Apple has decided to go after the gamers after all.
Within weeks of Microsoft announcing the addition of Xbox Live functionality to its upcoming Windows Phone 7 operating system, Apple’s on the verge of releasing Game Center for iPhone and iPod Touch.
Apple first announced Game Center in a press briefing in April, but revealed today (September 1) that it will be coming to iPhone and iPod Touch devices next week as part of iOS 4.1, a free update available through iTunes.
Game Center for iPads will be part of the free iOS 4.2 update coming in November.
Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, said in the press conference that Game Center is “all about multiplayer games”. It allows players to challenge their friends, he said, adding that “if you don’t have any friends it will automatch you”.
The new application brings leaderboards, achievements, and friends lists to Apple mobile gaming. Those features make up the core experience of Microsoft’s Xbox Live service.
Mike Capps, president of Epic Games, joined Jobs on stage to reveal a new game codenamed Project Sword, described as an “epic sword battle game”.
Created using Epic’s Unreal Engine 3, players will wield swords by swiping across the screen and direct attacks by, for example, drawing a line on the screen from a boot to a head.
Project Sword is in development for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, and will be released this holiday season.
Apple also announced significant upgrades to its iPod line, including the Shuffle (2 gigabytes, $59), Nano (8 gigabytes, $159; 16 gigabytes, $189), and iPod Touch (8 gigabytes, $249; 32 gigabytes, $319; 64 gigabytes, $429). The new models will be available next week.
Jobs called the iPod Touch “the most popular portable game player in the world” and claimed that the device has more than 50 percent of worldwide market share in portable gaming over Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP.