游戏在iOS上取得的成功有时让人觉得似乎落入苹果的圈套中，我有时觉得Steve Jobs和苹果会对游戏在平台上如此好的表现感到意外。尽管这个意外是高兴的，但确实是个意外。在iOS 4中，公司尝试通过发布Game Center（游戏邦注：为iOS游戏提供的社交网络服务）将这种游戏普遍性资本化。但是，如同公司其他社交服务，用户在很大程度上表示对此不感兴趣。出于研究目的，我和同事近来花了很多时间玩《Super Stickman Golf》。我向你保证，我也是首次使用Game Center。尽管该系统足以让我和朋友及同事比拼自己甚不满意的物理游戏技能，但这项服务仍有众多不足之处。
我情不自禁地想将Game Center同微软Xbox Live做个比较。尽管Live是个有缺陷且偶尔令人发狂的服务，但你很难找到更好的主流在线游戏服务。任天堂仍在使用奇怪的老式配对系统，索尼也不得不面对自己的挑战，即便是微软其他游戏新品也显得杂乱无章。因而与Xbox Live相比，Game Center仍处于劣势，这种消息可能会让苹果痛心疾首。如果公司真想认真对待其掌上平台的游戏，那么发布的Game Center 2.0时就应该有更多的改进。
短消息系统：这令我感到很困惑，为什么Game Center就没有内置的短消息系统呢？看看Xbox Live的做法，当你在该项服务上错失游戏邀请，信息会传送到收件箱中。也就是说，当你离开房间或在邀请来到时无法接受，你随时可以找到它。对邀请来说，Push信息很好，我曾经错失邀请或失去游戏机会，只是因为我无法足够快速地做出回应。
状态报告：想要便捷地查看是否有朋友正在线玩游戏吗？对我来说，这是Xbox Live的关键功能。我可以查看AIM同伴列表，很快就可以知道哪个朋友在线，可能和他们一起玩《战争机器》或《传送门2》。Game Center没有这个功能，我只能看到朋友最后玩过的游戏是什么，并未错失与他们一起玩的机会而感到惋惜。而且，提供在线朋友列表也可以让我知道不能打扰何人，或许他们现在正躺在床上安睡。
社交化：在线游戏就是社交行为，而苹果尚未真正在游戏中发掘的正是这片领域。在Game Center上添加朋友确实很简单，但如果我的某些朋友有我愿意与他成为朋友的人呢？我为什么不能浏览他们的朋友列表呢？同样，尽管我可以查看和比较朋友在我们共有的游戏中的表现，为何我不能浏览他们在我所没有的游戏中的成就列表呢？诚然，Game Center在朋友的界面中显示他们所有的游戏，但点击那些我没有的游戏后是跳转到App Store。提高新游戏曝光度固然很棒，但这项服务的主要目的不应该是推销游戏。Game Center主页也采用这种做法，列出Game Center游戏排行榜。我明白了，苹果的目的是要销售应用。但如果有游戏引起我的注意，我知道怎么用App Store来购买。Game Center应该关注游戏本身。
个性化：人们乐衷于让事物带有自己的特征，但Game Center在这方面显得很贫乏。除了能够输入简短的状态信息外，朋友间的页面几乎完全相同。任天堂Miis、Xbox Live和索尼都有它们自己的特征，只需可以上传头像可能就会让Game Center更受用户欢迎。尽管听起来这种做法很愚蠢，但我承认自己曾经花很多时间调整我在Xbox Live的虚拟形象，直到我感到满意。让用户个性化定制会提升他们的回头率。
设备转换：我只有一台Xbox，但iPad和iPhone我都有。然而让我深感挫败的是，我将玩《The Incident》的设备从iPad转为iPhone时，发现我在游戏中的位置已完全不同。提供API让游戏可以无线同步并将其绑定到Game Center账户中，这会让苹果提高该服务的竞争力。这样你就无需担心选用何种设备，你可以随时继续进行下去。《Carcassonne》和《Words with Friends》之类的游戏在这点上做得足够好，但我所钟爱的《Super Stickman Golf》却办不到。为什么会这样啊？这让我很受伤。
我相信下个iOS主版本至少会让Game Center有所改变，可能做到我上面提到的建议中的1到2点。但就公司长期且带有争议的游戏历史来说，我担心Game Center需要很长时间的改动。然而，公司有个前所未有的主要优势，流行的游戏设备而且与其相搭配的活跃社群。为保证自己在游戏界得地位，苹果需要在游戏中投入更多的精力。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，转载请注明来源：游戏邦）
Apple needs to press play on Game Center
As I went in for the putt, I realized that this was for the marbles—all of them. My heart racing, I aimed, tapped, and…score! But as I threw my hands up in the solitude of my living room, and barely managed to prevent spiking my iPhone on the couch, I felt the hollowness of my victory: How could I truly enjoy a barely eked-out triumph without the ability to dish out a little friendly trash-talking to my rivals?
The success of gaming on iOS often feels like something that’s fallen into Apple’s lap; I sometimes think that Steve Jobs and Apple are surprised by just how well games have done on the platform—pleasantly surprised, but surprised nonetheless. In iOS 4, the company tried to capitalize on that popularity by launching Game Center, a social networking service for iOS games—but, like the company’s Ping social service, it’s largely been met with a collective shrug of indifference by users. Having played a lot of Super Stickman Golf with my colleagues lately—for research purposes, I assure you—I’ve found myself really using Game Center for the first time. And while it does an able enough job of letting me pit my meager game-physics skills against my friends and co-workers, there are plenty of places where the service falls woefully short.
As someone who also plays games on an Xbox 360—yes, yes, I know: unclean!—I can’t help but compare Game Center to Microsoft’s Xbox Live. While Live is a flawed, occasionally maddening entity, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better implementation of a major online gaming service: Nintendo continues to use a bizarre and Byzantine matchmaking system; Sony has had to confront its own… uh, challenges; even Microsoft’s other games initiative, Games for Windows Live, is kind of a mess. So Game Center could do worse than to emulate Xbox Live, much as that idea might pain Apple. If Cupertino’s serious about fostering gaming on its portable platform, there are a bunch of things that it could—and should—do in rolling out Game Center 2.0.
Find your voice: The social element of multiplayer games can’t be overstated. Unsurprisingly, there’s something far more engaging about being able to talk to and hear your friends while you’re in the middle of a game; whether it’s for some good-natured ribbing, or just to have an idle chat, voice communication helps turn gaming from a solitary experience into a social one. And if you’ve ever tried to play a cooperative game without voice chat, you’ll know it’s a frustrating experience to say the least.
iOS devices can run VoIP programs in the background, so you could fire up Skype, start a call, invite all your friends, and then switch over to the game—but now you’ve just doubled the amount of time you’re spending before you tee off. That’s the kind of hassle that can kill a casual game opportunity dead. Voice chat should be part and parcel of the iOS gaming experience. (At the same time, there are plenty of folks out there who would gleefully abuse such a system, so we’d also need controls that let us mute unruly players, or limit voice chat permissions to just our friends.)
Text me: A lot of games implement their own text chat feature—Words with Friends, Carcassonne—but the place where Game Center needs it the most is in its multiplayer lobby. As you sit there, waiting for a friend to join—unsure if they ever will join—it would be handy to be able to discuss how soon you’re going to give up and assume that they’ve just been eaten by wild tigers. Voice chat can serve this purpose, too, but sometimes text chat is more useful and, frankly, less disruptive to the people around you. And for asynchronous play games like the two I mentioned above, text chat is far more useful than voice. So why not provide both options?
Message for you, sir: This one’s a head-scratcher to me: Why isn’t there a built-in messaging system in Game Center? Take a page from Xbox Live: When you miss an invitation to a game on that service, it goes to a sort of inbox. That way, if you’re out of the room or unable to accept the invitation when it comes up, you always know where to find it. Push notifications for invitations are all well and good, but I’ve had those invitations disappear on me, or missed games because I wasn’t able to respond fast enough.
In those cases, you also want to be able to fire off a quick message asking your friend to re-invite you, or explain why you’re not available to play right now—maybe try again in 15 minutes. Again, you could send a text or an e-mail, but, well, what if you don’t have their phone number? Or what if they’re gaming on their iPad and they don’t check their mail? Also, don’t make those message notifications obtrusive; nothing’s worse than having your game interrupted by a modal dialog box. Instead, follow the example of Game Center’s achievements, which pop up in a subtle little box, and don’t break the flow of a game.
Status report: Want a quick way to see if any of your friends are currently online playing games? This, to me, is one of Xbox Live’s killer features. Just as with my AIM buddy list, I can quickly see at a glance which of my friends are online and thus might be up for a game of Gears of War or Portal 2. There’s no such capability in Game Center: I can only see the last game my friend has played, and weep bitter tears that we missed our chance to play together. Also, providing a list of which of my friends are online right now also helps me to know I’m not about to invite somebody who’s comfortably asleep in bed.
Welcome to the social: Online play is all about socializing, and that’s an area where Apple hasn’t exactly torn up the playing field. Adding friends on Game Center is easy enough, but what if some of my friends know other people I’d like to be friends with? Why can’t I browse their list of friends? Similarly, while it’s cool that I can see and compare details of my friends’ performance on games we have in common, why can’t I browse their list of achievements for games I don’t have? Instead, Game Center dominates the friend screen with a list of all the other games they own—but tap those, and you’ll be taken to the App Store. Yes, it’s nice to be able to discover new games, but the primary purpose here shouldn’t be to hawk games. Same goes for Game Center’s home screen, where it shows a list of the Top Game Center Games. I get it, Apple: You want to sell apps. But I know how to use the App Store if one should catch my fancy. Let’s focus on the games themselves.
The customization is always right: People love to put their own stamp on things, and as attractive as much of Game Center is, it feels very sterile. Beyond the ability to input a short status message, there’s nothing to differentiate one friend’s page from another. Nintendo has its Miis, Xbox Live and Sony have their avatars—the ability to at least create a profile image would make Game Center feel a lot more welcoming for many users. It may seem silly, but I’ll confess that I’ve spent more time tweaking my Xbox Live avatar than I care to admit. Letting users give that personal touch to their profiles is one of the things that will keep them coming back.
Object permanence: I’ve only got one Xbox, but I have both an iPad and an iPhone. Yet it’s frustrating to find that if I jump from playing The Incident on my iPad to playing it on my iPhone, I’m at a completely different place in the game. This is one place where Apple could jump ahead of its competition, by providing an API to allow games to sync their states wirelessly, tied to their Game Center login. That way, you never have to worry about which device you pick up—your game is always right where you left off. Some games, like Carcassonne and Words with Friends, handle this well enough on their own, but my beloved Super Stickman Golf leaves me to complete all my courses all over again. Whyyyyyyyyyy? It hurts me so.
I’m confident that the next major version of iOS will bring at least some changes to Game Center—perhaps even one or two of those that I’ve outlined above. But given the company’s long and contentious history with gaming, I worry that Game Center might be left to languish, another example of Apple simply not “getting” games. Still, the company has one major advantage here that it hasn’t had in a long time: a popular gaming device and an active community to go with it. And to make sure it stays that way, Apple needs to get its head in the game. (Source: Macworld)