Game Center is Apple's new social gaming network for the iOS platform, which allows users to login to an account, invite friends to play games, find other users to join into multiplayer games, track achievements within games, and compare scores in leader board listings.
In addition to the new Game Center app, iOS 4 includes a series of GameKit APIs for developers that enable them to add Game Center support to their apps.
Game Center prevents app developers from having to roll their own account, matchmaking, and leader board systems for each game, and provides a consistent experience for gamers, similar to Sony's PlayStation Network on the PS3 and PSP, Microsoft's Xbox Live, and Valve's Steam for Mac and PC users.
Logging into Game Center
The beta Game Center app only recently began responding to login attempts. Users now report being able to login via their existing Apple ID / iTunes accounts. Game Center also offers to set up a new account (below).
Once logged in, the user is prompted to agree to Terms of Service that are currently not available for review in the developer build. Users then create a nickname, and can enable "Allow Game Invites" and the option to allow other users to "Find Me By Email." Users can specify multiple email addresses.
The Me homescreen lists the current user's number of friends, games played, and achievements won, and provides a way to set a status message.
The Friends page allows users to lookup other users on the network and send friend requests by email.
Apple said it expects to have Game Center finalized toward the fall, likely in conjunction with the iOS 4.x update that addresses iPad.