OpenFeint offers its service to replace UDID

Aug 26, 2011
Games

A lot of developers and advertising companies that use Apple’s iOS mobile operating system as a platform don’t really know what the future may bring with the next iteration of the software, iOS 5. Earlier this week, when it released the latest developer beta kit for iOS 5, Apple announced that it would be deprecating […]

A lot of developers and advertising companies that use Apple’s iOS mobile operating system as a platform don’t really know what the future may bring with the next iteration of the software, iOS 5.

Earlier this week, when it released the latest developer beta kit for iOS 5, Apple announced that it would be deprecating the unique device identification number, or UDID. That’s used to identify each device that’s running iOS. Think of it as a serial number for your iPhone or iPad’s software. It’s a number that developers and advertisers use to track app usage and other statistics in the iTunes App Store and among iOS users.

Lots of companies depend on the UDID to keep track of their users, but with Apple apparently removing it sometime when iOS 5 launches in the next few months, a lot of them might be up a creek. Not too many companies are talking about the development as they’re waiting to see what happens, but Apple has said in its change notes (that came with the beta) that app developers will have to create their own methods of tracking users. That could be a nightmare for companies that have been using UDIDs to gather data for years, and all that data might become useless in the next few months.

Enter OpenFeint, the cross-platform social gaming service that many game developers use to provide things like friends lists, leaderboards and achievements to their titles. According to a story from PocketGamer, OpenFeint sees the UDID change as an opportunity to offer its services to companies. OpenFeint allows users to create and use accounts over multiple apps and even multiple devices. If developers and advertisers were to switch to it, they wouldn’t get just a picture of what is being done on each mobile device, they’d see what each mobile user was up to.

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Here’s a quote from PocketGamer about how OpenFeint plans for the system to work:

It’s planning to streamline its tech with a new opt-in single sign-on system that it says will enable developers to identify and track individual gamers who have logged into the system via their OpenFeint universal ID, or OFUID.

This will provide data that can then be used to analyze behavior across games, as well as improving retention, monetisation and advertising.

‘Available to 115 million gamers at launch, OFUID will offer that reach and improve on it by giving users a way to share information with game developers, if they so choose,’ said Jason Citron, OpenFeint’s CEO.

OpenFeint also says it’s adjusting how sign-on for the service will work, so developers can choose if they want it to appear at the launch of their app or later, in order to “reduce the friction of sign-on.” Developers can also add incentives to the OFUID sign-on process to encourage more players to jump into the system which will mean easier tracking of users, and better targeted advertising.

We’ll have to wait and see if game makers gravitate to the system, but right now, it seems like OpenFeint might have a good way of making the most out of a tough situation for developers.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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