In a statement, OpenFeint positioned the OpenFeint X service, which allows iPhone devs to sell virtual goods, as the next step for its business. "OpenFeint X is currently built on top of OpenFeint and in the future it will also sit on Apple's Game Center social graph, achievements and leaderboards so developers and gamers don't miss a step," said OpenFeint CEO Jason Citron. "Apple is a key partner and we are delighted that they have validated the first half of the OpenFeint vision and we can now fulfill the second half: OpenFeint X and Virtual Goods based Social Games." Citron also promised to "continue to invest in OpenFeint" for the benefit of the games using the platform now and in the process of adding it.
ngmoco's Simon Jeffery released a statement indicating that Plus+ is also already moving in a similar direction. "ngmoco has anticipated this move from Apple for some time, and is happy to see a cleaner developer and consumer experience on the horizon," he said. "As we demonstrated at GDC 2010, Plus+ took a strategic shift in direction a few months ago toward being a service, and less about being a set of social gaming features." Plus+ is now focusing on "empowering monetisation and discoverability mechanisms for the development community," as evident in the service's support for player-created virtual item stores in We Rule.
If both OpenFeint and ngmoco are to become virtual goods platforms, they stand to benefit from Game Center -- in essence, they can allow Apple to handle all the matchmaking and friend list stuff, while they focus on building marketplaces to interact with Game Center. At least until iPhone OS 5 introduces a virtual goods marketplace.