业内话题：苹果Game Center能否成为Xbox Live？
据GigaOM报道，手机游戏公司ngmoco首席执行官Neil Young在采访中盛赞了苹果平台的强大功能和突出表现，但对苹果Game Center的评价却不是很高。
当然，Neil Young的公司运营着Game Center的竞争对手——手机社交游戏平台Plus+，所以这有可能是他对Game Center并无好感的原因之一，但不可否认的是，苹果在社交服务功能这一点上确实比Plus+、OpenFeint等平台较为落后。Game Center的积分排行榜、成就追踪器的功能较为单一，而OpenFeint、plus+和Gameloft Live等竞争对手却提供了多种选项，至少可以通过寻友功能和其他社交网站功能促进玩家的互动。
Game Center问世的原因与Ping相差无几——它们的作用都是推动内容产品的销售。Ping很显然是为了引导用户购买iTunes音乐内容，而Game Center也是针对App Store手机游戏而设计的一个销售推广工具。当然，这两者肩负这种使命并没有什么过错，只要苹果不明显表现出这种意图就成。
Xbox Live无疑是社交游戏平台之王，它之所以能够大获成功，原因就在于它真正促进了玩家的互动和沟通，以至于许多用户为了继续使用这种服务，心甘情愿地向该平台支付订阅费用。如果苹果也针对Game Center用户收费，那会是一种什么情况？游戏邦认为，苹果不大可能采取这种行动，但Xbox Live对微软带来的非现金式积极作用，也同样会对苹果有所启发，例如，Xbox Live让微软加大了对平台的投入，获得了游戏玩家的追随和信赖，另外还有效地向目标用户推广了游戏产品。
Neil Young的观点是正确的，他认为游戏的成功与否并不取决于华丽的画面、特效，或者先进的开发技术，而是游戏本身提供的用户体验。从这一点上看，他的说法与乔布斯在iPad 2产品发布会上对后PC时代的看点大体相同。总而言之，综合质量才是构成游戏体验的关键所在，独立存在的优势并不能有效提高游戏体验。
苹果当然也深谙这个道理，所以它的硬件和软件产品一直非常出色，但显然没有将这个理念渗透到它的社交网站服务中。和Ping一样，Game Center也错失良机，没有为iOS游戏玩家提供更丰富的用户体验，结果让Plus+等第三方平台填补了这个空缺。不过游戏邦认为，如果苹果可以为Game Center增添一些真正的社交网站元素（例如信息系统、寻友服务、更详细的积分排行榜、聊天工具和更优化的用户资料等功能），它还是有可能推动iOS成为一个聚集更多用户和开发商的平台。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，转载请注明来源：游戏邦）
Can Game Center Ever Be the Xbox Live of the Post-PC Era?
GigaOM recently sat down with ngmoco CEO and co-founder Neil Young to talk about the future of gaming and mobile apps. Young’s company blazed a trail for mobile apps developers, achieving early and sustained success in the Apple App Store economy. And while he thinks much about Apple’s platform, he’s not so keen on its own efforts to connect its gaming user community. Check out the video below (beginning at around 8:50) to hear Young’s thoughts on Game Center.
Obviously, Neil Young isn’t going to be keen to give too much praise to Game Center when his own company is the creator and driving force behind plus+, which is essentially a Game Center competitor. But there’s no denying Apple’s built-in service is lagging behind both plus+ and OpenFeint when it comes to features. Game Center acts as little more than a barebones leaderboard and achievements tracker, while other options like OpenFeint, plus+ and Gameloft Live at least offer the potential to really connect players to one another through matchmaking and other social networking features.
This isn’t the only time Apple has missed the target when it comes to social networking features and services. Ping, the company’s music-based, iTunes-integrated social networking tool was met with disappointment at launch, and though Apple periodically rolls out updates that seem to indicate it still has an interest in the service, it still isn’t succeeding as a social network.
Game Center seems to have been born out of the same kind of thinking: specifically, a desire to sell more content. Ping is very clearly designed to funnel users toward iTunes purchases, and Game Center is basically a sales tool designed to add perceived value to App Store game offerings. Both of which would be fine, so long as Apple wasn’t so transparent about its intent with both products.
Xbox Live, the king of social gaming networks, succeeds because it genuinely connects gamers, and it’s very good at doing that. So good that users are willing to pay a subscription to stay connected to the service. Think Apple could charge for Game Center? The Mac-maker may be very good at separating consumers from its money, but that’s a feat even it couldn’t pull off. Apple likely won’t ever charge users to use its gaming network, but Xbox Live also provides non-cash incentives for Microsoft that would benefit Apple just as much, including a sense of deeper platform investment and loyalty from gamers, and another means through which to effectively market gaming titles to an interested audience.
Young is right when he says in the above interview that games will succeed or fail based on the quality of the experience they provide, not based on how amazing their graphics or effects are or how much they push the limits of the technology that powers them. In a way, he’s talking about the same thing Jobs talked about when he discussed the post-PC era at Apple’s iPad 2 announcement event.
In both cases, it’s the overall quality of the total experience that matters, not the isolated merits of the individual parts that make up that experience.
Apple understands this when it comes to its hardware, and most of its software, too. But it doesn’t seem to take that message to heart when it comes to its social networking efforts. Game Center, like Ping, is a missed opportunity that could add infinitely to the experience of iOS gamers. Alternatives from third-parties like plus+ go some way towards filling this gap, but if Apple can add true social networking elements (a messaging system, matchmaking service, more detailed leaderboards, chat and better user profiles, to name a few) to its own native offering, it can make iOS a much richer and wider-reaching gaming platform, for both users and developers alike.（source:gigaom.com）