On Wednesday evening (September 8th) Apple delivered the latest version of its iPhone operating system worldwide via iTunes.
With the release of iOS 4.1 a host of welcome features are brought to the platform, from High Dynamic Range photography and iTunes Ping to TV show rentals, but most notable in the mix is Game Center.
Similar in set up and style to Microsoft’s Xbox Live, Game Center is Apple’s integrated social gaming and multiplayer network, which helps you find your friends and use auto-match to compete against comparably skilled opponents.
In addition, the Game Centre service tracks your in-game achievements and allows you to compare high scores.
iPhone game developers are encouraged to incorporate Game Centre into their titles, and some already have taken advantage.
Highly Qi-ranked publishers, including Firemint (Flight Control, Real Racing), Chillingo (Zen Bound, iPingpong 3D) and Pangea (Enigmo, Enigmo 2), are just a few of the early adopters.
The complete list of current Game Center supported titles is available below, but plenty more will follow in due course.
Professional reviews of the Game Center network haven’t been overwhelmingly positive...
Pocket Gamer’s Jon Mundy is critical of "both design and implementation", whilst TechNewsDaily’s Robert Workman bemoans the exclusion of "anyone who’s using a first generation iPod touch or even the iPhone 3G" from the service.
Almost all industry insiders agree on one thing, however: Apple’s new social gaming hub is, in the words of Scott Stein, CNET, "a welcome concept that could change the face of handheld gaming. But, until game support reaches critical mass and friend invites become more intuitive, Game Center won't feel like it's second-nature to any iPhone or iPod touch owner."
And here are the 29 games on the App Store that currently support Game Center: