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Game Center is an online multiplayer social gaming network released by Apple. It allows users to invite friends to play a game, start a multiplayer game through matchmaking, track their achievements, and compare their high scores on a leader board. Game Center was originally announced on April 8, 2010, and became publicly available with the release of iOS 4 on September 8 of that year. With a major update to the service in October 2011, it is officially available for iOS devices capable of running iOS 4.2 or later. The service now comes standard with the current iOS.
On February 16, 2012 it was announced by Apple that Game Center would be integrated into the latest version of Mac OS X, Mountain Lion, set for a summer 2012 release.
Gaming became a major part of the iOS platform when Apple launched the App Store on July 10, 2008. Unlike the console systems that were currently on the market, Apple had no unified multiplayer and social system for their platform. This gap was soon filled by third parties, such as, OpenFeint, Plus+, AGON Online and Scoreloop. These third parties had control over the online gaming environment and with multiple third parties involved, it left a non-unified experience.
Game Center was announced during an iOS 4 preview event hosted by Apple on April 8, 2010. A preview was released to registered Apple developers in August. It was released on September 8, 2010 with iOS 4.1 on iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 2nd generation through 4th generation, and is included with iOS 4.2 on the iPad.
An updated version of Game Center was released with iOS 5 that featured the addition of turn based gaming, player photos, friend suggestions, and achievement points.
From within Game Center, players can connect with friends, send friend requests, start playing games and organize online multiplayer games. Some games may feature achievements, where for completing a certain task, the player is rewarded points. Depending on the game, a leader board may be present where a player can compare his or her score with friends or the world.
Some iOS games are connected to Game Center, but not all of them feature multiplayer play.