My minute on the Apple Game Center

We don't present the App Store anymore. Everyone has understood its power. Be featured on it means a lot of new users and an amazing traction.
I think people underestimate the power of the Apple Game Center. Let me introduce it.

The Game Center App is a built in app made to promote social gaming. Players can create and edit their account (on top of their iTunes account), create and manage friend relationships, view friend details, view game details, purchase games and launch games with or without invites.

The GameKit Framework provided to iOS developers enhances the game development by easily authenticating a user, by submitting scores and displaying leaderboards, by submitting and displaying achievements, by establishing multiplayer games and by providing in-game voice chat.

Apple provide a unique customizable UI with very powerful features. Lets talk about some of my favorites.

Auto-Matching (Multiplayer)
If your game is multiplayer, the basic assumption is that a lot of people want to play your game together with their friends but not only. Apple gets this information and do some great logic to figure out who is the best group to match. The cool thing is that if your game has several choices (let's say race tracks for instance), the system can inform the poor guy that is alone and automatically adjust him over to a more popular race track. Cooler than that, the system can auto-match with different player attributes. For example, if a music game requires to create a band with a drummer, a guitarist and whatever else, the system does it.

In Game Voice Chat
iOS are, by definition, devices with voice capabilities. Apple provides the controls to set the participation between the players: Team A talking amongst themselves and Team B talking amongst themselves, or everybody talking to everybody, etc. I didn't see a lot of games using this feature.

The Game Center provide a very complete leaderboards solution allowing to filter by friends or all players, by time (today, this week, all time), by location, to retrive ranges, etc. 
It also handles different versions of a game, categories, multiple and overall leaderboards.

In term of gamification, achievements are totally mandatory. Once again, the framework provides a standard UI and deep features. For instance, you can have a description before the person has accomplished that achievement and then a separate description for after the person has accomplished that achievement. You also have progress, hidden achievements (very useful if you want that the person purchases an in app purchase to unlock special ones).

To sum up, the Game Center is a very powerful tool to enhance the user experience, to avoid a lot of hours of developments and to promote your social game.

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