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Among console gaming fans, there is little doubt that Xbox Live is the current pinnacle of social online gaming. Sharing stats, matchmaking, ranked play, and messaging are all combined in a symphony of interactivity unmatched by the PS3, and certainly not by the Wii. Ngmoco wants to bring some of that social connectivity to iPhone (s aapl) gaming, and has thus launched Plus+.
Plus+ is initially launching only on Star Defense, an update to which is now live in the App Store with the added features. You can sign up for an account from within Star Defense, and registration is relatively painless. Plus+ is also one way to test out push notifications, if you’re looking for more apps that can handle the new iPhone OS 3.0 feature.
Services offered via Plus+ are game awards (like achievements or trophies on Xbox or PS3), leaderboards, a friends list and direct challenges. You can have two types of contacts in Plus+, followers and friends. The names might be familiar if you’re a Twitter user, and for good reason: They represent exactly the same types of relationships. Followers are people who’ve added you, but who you’ve not added, and Friends are people you’ve added yourself.
Push notifications come in when you complete a challenge map. Once you’ve lost your base, you have to option to Direct Challenge any of your Plus+ friends, which will send them a push notification making them aware of the fact. You can also issue an open challenge via Twitter.
I’m excited for what Plus+ will do for asynchronous multiplayer gaming on the iPhone platform. Hopefully Gameloft, EA (s erts) and other major iPhone publishers will follow suit with gaming networks of their own. I have no friends yet, so I can’t tell if push notifications are working well. Add me and let’s tango, if you’re a Star Defense owner. My Plus+ name is in the screenshot.