OpenFeint: A Plug-And-Play Social Platform For iPhone Games

Aurora Feint (iTunes Link) is a popular and very addictive RPG puzzle game notable for effectively merging game play with an online a community and real time chat – features that are still unfortunately lacking in many iPhone games that fail to tap into the network effect. Now, the developers of Aurora Feint are releasing OpenFeint, an API that will allow iPhone developers to integrate rich social features into their applications with a minimal amount of effort. The platform is launching in private beta today (interested developers can contact the company here to request an invite), but will be released to the public next month.

The OpenFeint Platform allows developers to integrate features including user profiles, Facebook-like ‘walls’, and chat rooms (which can either be game-specific or globally shared across all games). OpenFeint founders Jason Citron and Danielle Cassley say that the platform will save developers around two months of coding and only takes around two hours to integrate with its default UI (though developers will be free to customize the system to suit their games). And all chats will be hosted on the OpenFeint servers, so developers won’t have to worry about managing resources. Final pricing plans have not yet been determined, but Citron and Cassley say that it will remain free throughout the beta and will also be free for small-time developers, though they will have to sign on to a paid plan if their game becomes popular.

While the platform offers extensive social features, it is not currently being targeted as an “Xbox Live” for the iPhone, so it won’t have competitive features like a trophy system (another platform called Onyx, from the developers behind competing puzzle game Trism, is meant to do just that). Citron and Cassley say that they’re sticking with what they know works for now, but would be open to expanding the platform in that direction in the future.