Intel Invests $3 Million In Mobile Social Gaming Platform OpenFeint

Intel Capital, the investment arm of Intel, has just announced a $3 million investment in OpenFeint, the comprehensive mobile social gaming platform from Aurora Feint. This latest round brings Aurora Feint’s total funding to $12 million. Earlier this year, the company also took a $5 million investment from Chinese gaming company The9.

OpenFeint’s plug and play mobile social platform and application for smartphones includes a set of online game services such as leaderboards, virtual currencies and achievements running in a cloud-based Web environment.

OpenFeint has taken a cross-platform approach to its social gaming platform, first launching on the iPhone and iPad and more recently adding Android game developers to its rapidly growing community, launching its plug and play social game development to developers to the public a few weeks ago. The startup also released PlayTime, a set of technologies that will allow developers to make real-time multiplayer games with voice chat across iOS and Android.

And OpenFeint has seen considerable traction with its platform, adding 3,400 games and over 45 million mobile gamers to in just over a year. Additionally, the company just struck a deal with Verizon, Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility to offer their mobile consumers Android game recommendations on their Verizon phones, all curated by OpenFeint.

This is actually Intel’s first investment in a social gaming platform (the firm invested in game streaming company Gaikai). So why is Intel investing in OpenFeint? Intel tells TechCrunch that there are a number of reasons. First, social gaming is a huge segment in the consumer space; and second, OpenFeint has shown expertise and success in the market. While OpenFeint’s high traffic numbers also contributed to the decision, one of the main factors Intel considered was the cross-platform nature of OpenFeint.

OpenFeint will actually use the new investment to expand its social gaming SDK to other platforms and devices.

Peter Relan, chairman of Aurora Feint, says that games can actually be a driver for the adoption of new devices as consumers look for richer experiences for social gaming. He says the company will be looking closely at four to five new platforms for possible expansion beyond iOS and Android, including Windows 7, BlackBerry, and a number of tablets.

Of course, Apple recently launched its own gaming platform, GameCenter, for developers which poses competition to OpenFeint. But Relan doesn’t seem to be worried. He says that multiplatform strategy is the way to go as users want to be able to play games across a variety of devices from different manufacturers. He explained, “The user is king at the end of the day.”