Gree closing down OpenFeint on December 14

I believe we've now reached the end of iOS' first generation as a platform -- it's almost every week now that we're hearing about a major startup losing a founder or a big franchise shutting down. This time it's OpenFeint, the social gaming platform started up way back by Jason Citron and Danielle Cassley, that at one point claimed 25 million users, and then was sold to a Japanese social network named Gree for $104 million. Gree has announced that it's finally shutting down the network on December 14, leaving developers who still depend on it in the lurch, and closing a book that makes up the first big chapter of the iOS marketplace.

OpenFeint was originally started from a game itself, but it grew into an easily implemented social network that connected the App Store's offerings together, both in terms of user accounts and leaderboards, and in helping developers promote and share their apps with a large group of consumers. Gree is planning to migrate current OpenFeint users to its own social network, but it says that the current OpenFeint API calls will no longer work after December 14, which means any developers who still depend on those calls will be out of luck.

Of course, Apple's Game Center service is the official version of OpenFeint, and though Citron and his crew (and later, Gree) fought to try and keep OpenFeint relevant even when Apple introduced its own service, it appears the battle's finally been lost. Citron left the company late last year as well. We'll see if Gree tries to do something to appease devs angry about the short notice on the changeover, but it's much more likely that those devs will just make their own switch to Game Center and be done with third-party services in general. As I said, it's the end of an era for the App Store. Going forward, Game Center reigns supreme.