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Inside OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion GM: Game Center and Chess 3.0

Apple is expanding Game Center from an iOS play into the Mac arena with OS X Mountain Lion, enabling developers to add friend requests, recommendations and challenges as well as unlockable achievements and top score listings.

Apple introduced Game Center for iOS in 2010, hoping to capitalize on the growing selection of casual gaming titles that make up a huge part of App Store's catalog.

With social gaming features similar to those in Microsoft's XBox Live or Sony's PlayStation Network, Game Center allows developers to tap into a single system for reporting scores and achievements, and for sending invitations to friends or getting matched up with other players in multiuser games.

In Mountain Lion, Apple is bringing Game Center's features to the Mac desktop, and of course, to developers of the more involved and complex games available on a full sized computer.

Now under development, Game Center currently doesn't sport any titles in the Mac App Store. Apple has outfitted the bundled Chess with Game Center features, demonstrating how the new features can work within desktop games.

The Game Center app

As with IOS, Mac users will now soon have a central app that links to their networked friends, the games they play, pending requests, and the achievements they've unlocked in each title they play.

After signing in, users can pick a nickname that will be used in leader boards and to identify them in multiplayer games. Users can opt to have a public profile, where they are identified to other player by their real name. There's also an option to look up Game Center friends using your existing contacts.

Once logged in, users can view their gaming social network of friends or invite others into their Game Center network. Existing iOS Game Center players should find their existing pool of friends once the service goes online with the release of Mountain Lion.

Finding games

The third tab of Game Center lists the gaming titles (below) that user has been playing, presents recommendations, and links to the App Store. Note that games are listed as being "OS X Games," as Apple is advertising that Game Center on iOS and Mac will allow for cross platform gameplay, in addition to titles that are exclusive to either App Store.

Currently, the link to the Mac App Store presents an empty inventory of Game Center titles, simply because it hasn't officially launched yet.

On page 2 of 2: A preview in Chess 3.0