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iOS gaming network OpenFeint coming to Android

Good news for Android gamers: OpenFeint--the popular social-gaming layer found on iPhone and iPad apps is coming to Android this summer.

OpenFeint, the free social-networking layer that can be found on a large number of iOS games, is headed to Google's Android platform.

According to the company, Android developers will be getting the same version of the OpenFeint SDK that's available for iOS developers. The Android release will also include the game discovery tools, and a micropayments system that was introduced as part of OpenFeint X platform back in February.

Android with OpenFeint logo

iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad users who have ventured onto the App Store in the past year have undoubtedly noticed OpenFeint's presence, as the service has been built in to more than 2,200 apps on Apple's platform. Similar to Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network--both of which are found on consoles--OpenFeint creates a social layer on top of mobile games, and also offers tools for developers to add things like leaderboards, friends lists, and shared game save data.

The addition of OpenFeint comes at a good time for Android. The platform is now arguably more game-friendly than it was just a few months ago, given the rollout of version 2.2 of its OS to recent model devices such as HTC's Nexus One.

Unlike previous versions of the Android OS, version 2.2 lets developers store their games and apps on the phone's SD card, instead of the built-in memory module, which on devices even just a few months old could be scant. By comparison, Apple's devices, which ship with anywhere from 8GB to 64GB of built-in memory, can be filled to the brim with app installs and data. For this very reason, game makers whose apps went above 10MB (a commonplace on the App Store), had little promise of big sales even with Android's growing user base.

OpenFeint says it's continuing to develop its platform for iOS devices alongside its Android efforts. There was some question of this shortly after Apple unveiled its "Game Center" initiative, which duplicates much of OpenFeint's functionality. In an interview with CNET shortly after that announcement, the company said it was building features that were "the next level" of Apple's initial offering.

Alongside the introduction of OpenFeint for Android, Aurora Feint (OpenFeint's parent company) announced a $4 million strategic investment from Chinese game operator and developer The9--the same company that was trusted with the license agreement of distributing Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft to Chinese gamers for four years.