Nov 21, 2012
One of the biggest names of the early days of touchscreen mobile gaming is about to finally fade away: parent company GREE is shutting down OpenFeint, effective in December.
OpenFeint may not be as fondly remembered on Android as it is on iOS. It was the first real service to provide leaderboards and achievements, a much-desired feature. However, the platform failed to expand upon that core functionality once Game Center kicked in and became ubiquitous; while features like cloud saves were implemented by OpenFeint (and seen in games like INC which provided cross-platform saves) they never took off with developers or the public. However, the service was still purchased by GREE, and has been languishing recently as it transitions in to the GREE Platform.
However, Android has not seen the same kind of love for OpenFeint, though the service may have been one of the biggest to actually operate on the platform. But with OpenFeint going away, there’s not a comparable standard on Android that compares. GREE are pushing their service as an OpenFeint replacement, but many developers, already miffed by the fact that OpenFeint has been shut down, are loath to toss their support to GREE. Swarm, a service offering many of the same features as OpenFeint that is Android-exclusive, is making a push to be the next service in line. That other alternatives like Scoreloop are floundering or otherwise non-notable leaves these two pretty much as the only competitors in the battlefield.
This would be an opportunity for Google to launch their own kind of standardized service, but the problem would be adoption, as considering how slow rollouts of new Android versions are, it could take several years before such a service became ubiquitous if implemented as an OS-wide feature. Otherwise, it’d have to be implemented as a third-party plugin much like these other services are.
The lack of a good service on Android has turned away developers like Terry Cavanagh who wanted to release Super Hexagon but didn’t find a good equivalent service to Game Center on Android. The title is now basically in limbo as he ports the title to C++, and as he waits to hire a coder to port the game to Android, instead of releasing the game compiled in Adobe AIR.
While the service may have been a redundancy in its final days, and extremely clunky on Android, as someone who’s been covering mobile games since early 2009, I remember that OpenFeint was a huge deal, and it should not be forgotten because it served an important role in the history of mobile gaming.