About a week ago, Aurora Feint, the team behind OpenFeint, publicly unveiled their Android SDK, allowing Android developers to easily incorporate things like leaderboards and achievements into their games. With that announcement came the promise of twenty new games, and we have already seen significant successes like MiniSquadron and Fruit Ninja jumping to the top of the Android charts. But now what? I flew down to the OpenFeint offices in San Francisco to find out first-hand.
Jet Car Stunts
Jason Citron, CEO and founder of Aurora Feint, showed off Jet Car Stunts (see video below) on iPhone to explain what OpenFeint could currently do and open the conversation about its future. One feature that stood out was the ability for one player to record a ghost of his performance and another player to race against that ghost at another time. That gives a sense of multiplayer competition without requiring simultaneous play. Not only is Jet Car Stunts on its way to Android, so are the many features of OpenFeint.
A forthcoming feature that builds even more on the multiplayer aspect is called PlayTime. In fact, PlayTime for Casual Games will allow developers who have not even considered multiplayer modes in their games to incorporate them in about a day. This will let players compete against each other, playing the same game at the same time while scrambling for a higher score. It could be as simple as playing a puzzle game and seeing the same pieces while watching your scores jumping apart, but more features like voice chat are on the way as well.
Multi-OS (iOS + Android) Compatibility
My first question was whether their goal was to have the Android version of OpenFeint reach parity with the iOS version or whether they had other plans, and I was pleased to hear the answer. While they are very happy with the success of OpenFeint on iOS (38 million users and over 3,000 games is certainly impressive), there are a lot of features that they would like to do better the second time around, so that means many of these features will be improved on Android. Then, at some point in the future, the platforms will align more closely.
OpenFeint executives had an interesting perspective on the very different markets of iOS and Android, sharing that piracy is actually a concern on both platforms. The gamer demographics are rather different as well, particularly due to many iOS gamers being teenagers with iPod Touch devices. They have also found that developers feel unsure about whether Android is a viable gaming platform, but they have seen interest jump recently.
All in all, I left San Francisco today feeling far more excited about the future of Android gaming. OpenFeint will continue to do regular pushes of great games by a variety of developers for Android throughout the rest of the year, so get ready!