OpenFeint, the popular social networking framework for iPhone gaming, is hopping on the iPad bandwagon. The developers have cited the iPad’s $499 starting price point and large screen size, which is the equivalent of four iPhones put together, as the biggest reasons to be excited for the future of iPad gaming.
“[The iPad's screen] brings a completely new dimension of games you can play,” says Peter Relan, Chairman of OpenFeint. “Going from the screen size of the iPhone to that size screen is a dramatic difference. Now you have so much real estate it’s mind blowing what you can do both [with] games and OpenFeint integrations.”
OpenFeint can be found in over 900 live iPhone and iPod Touch apps, and has garnered 10 million users. Accomplishing tasks in OpenFeint-enabled games earn users achievements with points that accumulate much like Xbox Live’s Gamerscore. Users can sync their OpenFeint profiles with their Facebook or Twitter accounts to find friends, and in-game achievements can be posted to either service automatically.
The most exciting doors that the iPad’s screen is opening for OpenFeint involve how many new ways they can arrange and present data. Relan mentioned being able to display multiple leaderboard types, giving users a larger profile picture and having a scrolling ticker on the screen streaming real time updates.
Even more importantly for the company is the larger screen’s ability to get a greater variety of OpenFeint-supported games into users hands more easily. “On one OpenFeint screen on the iPad we can feature the 30 best apps,” says Relan. “The [on-screen] real estate gives you a bird’s eye view that is so much richer with an iPad than on the iPhone.”
Relan notes that while the iPad seems to have the eBook market in its sights, its eventual price drop will make it a very affordable gaming machine. “They clearly priced it at the Kindle price point and I think it’s going to go down to $250. I think within the next twelve months it is a hot gaming device.”
Relan also believes the iPad has the tools to invade the living room and compete with the console juggernauts for their casual gamers. “Reading, watching videos and playing games. Where do you do all that, pretty much in your living room, right? And where’s the console, pretty much in your living room, right?” Relan believes that the iPad, much like the Wii, will create casual gamer living rooms where there were none. “My view is it may not cut into the hardcore gamer console market, but it will expand the ‘living room’ console market.”