OpenFeint X Offers More Social, Virtual Goods Features

storeAurora Feint‘s OpenFeint social platform is getting a big upgrade, the company says today. It already lets iPhone application developers add leaderboards, achievements, and other basic social features. The upgrade, OpenFeint X, includes a range of social features that offer more communication between users — and more users, engagement and revenue for developers. The upgrade is free, launching today with new Japanese strategic partner, DeNa Group, and will be generally available within a few months.

The new platform will actually offer developers the ability to create free-to-play games that include communication channels, virtual goods, and by extension, virtual goods transactions. The idea is to emulate the primary monetization model found on Facebook and the heart of the massive success of companies such as Zynga or CrowdStar. More and more companies have been experimenting with the free-to-play model on the iPhone after Apple made it available last fall, with some free-to-play games reaching its top leaderboards.

inviteFeatures include they can use incentivized game invites, customized game boxes for player profiles, chat walls, newsfeeds, and “game nudges.” OpenFeint X will also offer premium services that provide not only the means to run a social game, but the ability to run one — but not quite for free. The service is using the free-to-play model, in a sense, because developers who use its virtual goods store, detailed analytics, a game-specific currency wallet, and downloadable game assets share a portion of the revenue with Aurora Feint.

Developers using OpenFeint have a total of 12 million total users and 25% per month growth, executive chairman Peter Relan tells us, including more than 1 million daily active users. Relan is also the chairman of CrowdStar and Sibblingz, a cross-platform social game engine service.