WWDC 16: Apple Details Game Center Changes in iOS 10, Introduces Sessions

Apple introduced its Sessions API, which will add support for iCloud-based multiplayer to Game Center.

During WWDC 16 last week, Apple unveiled a number of changes coming to Game Center in iOS 10. Game Center is Apple’s social gaming platform, which allows developers to add achievements, leader boards and multiplayer functionality to iOS games.

With this update, Game Center will support Messages-based invites for multiplayer matches. That is, rather than being limited to only inviting their Game Center friends to matches, users will be able to send rich link messages through the Messages app to invite other users to play games.

Users can invite friends from their contacts list, as well as invite their Game Center friends through a “recent” tab on the invite screen. In addition to Game Center friends, this recent tab will include players users have recently played with.

When invitees tap rich links, they’ll be taken directly into games to play, or they will be taken to the App Store if the games aren’t already installed on their devices.

As part of this update, Apple is removing traditional Friends List features from Game Center, so users will no longer be able to send, receive or respond to Game Center friend requests. However, a user’s existing Game Center friends will remain.

In addition, Apple is deleting the Game Center app itself. In the current version of iOS, players can use the Game Center app to manage their friends list, browse leader boards, view their achievements and more. Once the app has been removed in iOS 10, users will be able to access these features either within games themselves, or elsewhere on their devices.

Finally, Apple introduced its Sessions application-programming interface, which will add support for iCloud-based multiplayer to Game Center. Each gameplay Session will support up to 100 users. During a Session, players will be able to invite others to join through a unique Session URL. This will allow users to invite others through iMessage, email, Twitter and so on.

Sessions will also allow users to send messages to other players, which will appear as Game Center notifications.

Lastly, Sessions will support “assisted single-player games.” With this feature, when a user is stuck on a level in a game, he or she will be able to invite a friend to help them complete the level. Developers will have the option to introduce cooperative elements for the two players to complete the level together, or, they can allow the second player to simply complete the level for the first player.

iOS 10 will launch this fall.

Readers: What do you think of these Game Center changes?