Before Game Center, OpenFeint and similar third-party platforms carried the weight of the iOS platform when it came to social networking in gaming. Even after Game Center debuted with its leaderboards and achievements, OpenFeint still saw plenty of use, including 1.4 million additional users over the Christmas holidays. With more than 5000 OpenFeint games reaching an audience of 75 million users, it's unsurprising that Japanese social network GREE has just purchased OpenFeint for US$104 million.
GREE is already a well-established network in Japan, but rather than shutting OpenFeint down and incorporating it into its own brand, the Japanese network is going to pump operating capital into OpenFeint to grow the platform. According to OpenFeint CEO James Citron, "the entire OpenFeint team is staying on," and GREE's investment in the platform will lead to "faster SDK updates, awesome new products, and network improvements," plus greater global distribution of OpenFeint's services.
Social networking services like OpenFeint and Game Center are an important part of the draw of gaming on iOS, so it's encouraging to see big investments being made in this area. Congratulations and good luck to the OpenFeint team.