I can’t remember the last time I opened the Game Center app. The reason is obvious: the app hardly does anything. Sure, you can add friends and see their games and scores, but that’s about it. I want a Game Center app that gives an experience that seems essential to iOS gaming. Read on for a rundown of the features we’d like to see added, and let us know what features you’d like to see in the comments section below. And then cross your fingers for a Game Center update when Apple unveils iOS 5 at the WWDC keynote presentation on Monday.
Show Who’s Online and What They’re Playing
And while we’re in the app, why doesn’t it show me who’s online and what they’re playing? This is especially important for multiplayer games. If I’m pwning n00bs in Dogfight 1951 and I want a wingman to play co-op with, I’d rather not interrupt a friend’s day with an out-of-the-blue push notification requesting a match. But it would be an entirely different story if I knew my friend was online and playing the same game at the same time.
Add System-Wide Voice and Text Chat
Speaking of co-op multiplayer, if I’m gaming with a friend, it would be great to be able to voice or text chat with him or her. Some games offer this already, but integrating it in Game Center would make it possible regardless of what game you’re playing. Whether you want to discuss gameplay strategy or what time to meet up for a movie later, having open lines of communication would be a great addition.
Integrate The Other Major Social Gaming Platforms
This might be a far-fetched idea from a technical standpoint, but it might also be necessary if Apple wants to make Game Center the One Social Gaming Service To Rule Them All. It simply doesn’t make sense for gamers to have separate friends lists and achievement scores for OpenFeint, Crystal, Plus+, Game Center, and all of the others. Isn’t it time to eliminate the redundancies?
Back Up Game Saves
This is a biggie. With some games hogging upwards of a gigabyte of hard drive space, many people need to delete games off their device to make room for other stuff. But when you want to get back into a game you’ve deleted, reinstalling it means you lose your save file and have to start from scratch. The same thing goes for when you want to continue your game on another iOS device. Backing up game saves doesn’t necessarily have to be a Game Center feature, but we’ll gladly take it any way Apple can make it happen.
Take It Even Further
And while we’re at it, why don’t we think even bigger? Couldn’t Apple take a nod from social services like Facebook and include personalized social elements? We’re thinking of more detailed profiles that let us rate and list our favorite games, a messaging system, avatars, pictures, the works. Let’s not go crazy with it– it should still be centered around gaming– but any way they can make Game Center more appealing would make online gaming that much more enjoyable.