Everyone loves a format war, but these days, it’s not enough to simply to fight over the consoles themselves. The very apps and services that run on these systems are now caught up in their own battles, like the recent tussle between Sony’s Blu-ray and Toshiba’s HD-DVD, which acted as an entertaining sideshow to the main event between the 360 and the PS3.
Now the iPhone is also playing host to a conflict of its own: services aiming to bring social networks and league tables to every app out there. The announcement that New York based outfit Freeverse has signed up to ngmoco’s Plus+, just days after Aurora Feint’s OpenFeint service scored Puzzle Quest: Chapter 1 ‘“ The Battle for Gruulkar, signals the heating up of this particular contest.
Like OpenFeint, Plus+ aims to provide a standardized networking system that will let players upload their top scores to an online database and challenge players from around the globe, wrapping their play experience around one single profile
So why exactly has Freeverse, which will be bringing the likes of forthcoming trading and conquest title Warpgate and the million-selling Flick Fishing (which scored an impressive 4/4 from Slide to Play back in November) to the service, opted for Plus+?
‘Freeverse fans are always eager to engage meaningfully with their social groups and share the games they love, so integrating Plus+ into our games was a natural choice for us,” Freeverse president Ian Lynch Smith said in a statement. “Whether players want to follow their friends’ activities, set up their own challenges and invite friends to play, the Plus+ network offers that functionality today and is poised to offer even more in the future. We’re confident that Plus+ promises to be the definitive social map iPhone players have been searching for.’
How many other developers will Plus+ reel in?
Naturally, fans of global leagues and social networks will be hoping that one service–whether it’s Plus+, OpenFeint, one of the other players (AGON Online, Gameloft Live, Crystal, Scoreloop and Geocade, to name a few), or even an as of yet unannounced package–manages to come out on top with developers, serving up a de facto standard for all App Store titles. The success (or, indeed, failure) of either one will rely on ngmoco, Aurora Feint and the like signing up further developer support, tying up the most popular titles and giving gamers a reason to sign up for their service instead of/as well as their rival’s.
Just as with any format war, however, it’s unlikely both will be able to stay afloat with just a portion of the market behind them–one will more than likely fall by the wayside as the other goes on to dominate at some point.
A more comprehensive feature detailing many of the iPhone’s social platform competitors is in the offing on STP, so check back in the near future for more word on what these companies have in store for us gamers.