1.5 billion iPhone 'games' sold, Game Center launches next week

Apple claims iPod Touch is "number one gaming platform in world"; online multiplayer gaming service goes live next week with leaderboards, matchmaking, and achievements.

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At an event in April, Apple unveiled the iPhone Game Center, which was billed as "a social network for gaming," one that operates in a fashion similar to Microsoft's Xbox Live platform for the Xbox 360. Apple CEO Steve Jobs promised the service will offer portable gamers matchmaking services, friends lists, leaderboards, achievements, and a singular gamer name for use across all titles.

Remember, that 1.5 billion figure includes fart apps.
Remember, that 1.5 billion figure includes fart apps.

First saddled with a vague "summer" release, the iPhone Game Center now has a much less nebulous launch date. As covered by GameSpot sister site CNET, Jobs announced the service will launch next week at an Apple event in San Francisco. He also demonstrated the service's various features, including the ability to challenge random players "if you don't have any friends," joked Jobs.

Game Center will be available to users of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Jobs boasted today that the iPod Touch is now "the number one portable game player in the world," outselling both the Nintendo DS and PSP combined. He also trumpeted the fact that some 1.5 billion iPhone/iPod Touch OS games have been sold to date.

That said, the slide behind Jobs undermined his claim. It clearly stated that 1.5 billion "Games and Entertainment" titles had been sold to date. The "Games" category covers both polished titles, such as 2K Games' $10 Civilization Revolution, a port of the acclaimed DS version, and $0.99 casual titles, such as Solitaire. The "Entertainment" category covers an even broader swathe of nongaming applications, such as Run Pee Mobile, which tips moviegoers about opportune bathroom break times at a showing, and 18,000 Cool Jokes, a conversation aid to the humor impaired.

Also unveiled at Apple's event were three new game-capable iPod Touch models: 8GB for $229, 32GB for $299, and 64GB for $399.

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