OpenFeint announces in-app content service, infrastructure to support freemium games

Social gaming network OpenFeint has finally unveiled its OpenFeint X service, which will allow developers on the App Store (and a few other mobile platforms) to add cloud-based microtransaction content to their games on top of Apple's own in-app purchase service. This is apparently a system that lives outside of Apple's own store, and allows developers to quickly and easily add in-app content without having to go through Apple's approval system. If that sounds confusing, it's because the system is still so new -- only a few developers have worked with it so far (though we're supposed to see it running in popular titles like Fruit Ninja soon), and the updates for providing virtual currency and goods aren't out yet. But this is the next step for OpenFeint -- after Apple released Game Center, OpenFeint's plan was to provide even more services on top of the Game Center functionality, and with the rise of freemium apps on the store lately, delivering this content is an important thing for developers to do.

To kick off the new service, OpenFeint is holding what its calling a "million dollar challenge" -- the first 100 developers to sign up and use OpenFeint X will be able to earn up to $10,000 without sharing any revenue (which basically means OpenFeint is giving away $1 million of the money it would have made). After that, developers who use the service will enter a revenue sharing plan -- if you're a developer, you can find more details about that on the official website.

This won't change things for most end users -- it likely won't matter to you whether you click one of Apple's buttons to make an in-app purchase or use code from another company. But it will be an interesting choice for developers to make. And given what we've heard about the growing revenues from in-app purchases, a service like this is showing up at exactly the right time.