How to add Global High Scores support to your iPhone Game without really trying

If you recently developed an iPhone game like we did, you will likely want to implement a global hall of fame with worldwide high scores for the best, higher rank players of your game. Several drop-in solutions now exist. Here is a “hall of fame” for the “global high scores” services and web apps available for your next iPhone game.

Why is a leader board with high scores so important?
Casual gaming is the main trend in iPhone games. The iPhone and iPod Touch are great gaming devices, and the best selling apps on the App Store are iPhone games. This means there’s an ever growing community of casual gamers out there. This is a peculiar community since most iPhone games support one player only. The ones that allow for two (or more) players usually require a bluetooth or WiFi connection, however the nature of casual gaming makes it difficult to people around the world to gather at the same time to play. Therefore, shared high scores have are a great way to keep your users challenged and play an important role in making your game an addicting one.

The development of a global high scores features for your game will add a layer of complexity to your app though. You will require to handle an internet connection to a server that will host a database of nicknames, scores and dates, and you’ll need a web application to manage the database and a web service to communicate the data to the iPhone client application.

iPhone developers out there know this and they’ve come up with several different solutions for your problem.

Open Feint

Presented as “the largest social gaming platform for the iPhone”, it features:

  • Social Discovery: what are your Facebook, Twitter, and OpenFeint friends playing?
  • One Touch iPurchase: purchase a game right from its iPurchase page
  • Game Services: achievements and Leaderboards without hosting your own servers
  • Listen To Your Fans: interact with your players inside developer and game chat rooms
  • ‘Skinnable’ UI: Brandable User Interface for a Customized Experience.
  • Single Sign-on: One time sign in for any OpenFeint enabled game.
  • Control over User Data: Own and access player data from private label games.
  • Internal Cross Promotion: Cross-promote games within a private label directly to other players in the same private label.
  • Leaderboards and Achievements: Private community Leaderboards and Achievements.

The system is really comprehensive and the network includes some of the most famous iPhone games on the market.
The service had a fee for developers but now it is free.

Open Feint is open source. No framework, libraries or SDKs, so it is really easy to integrate with your code.
One line to initialize, one line to submit a high score/achievement, one line to open the OF interface (there is only little documentation available though).

It is also very easy for the user to use, with automatic account creation, and friend list importing from Twitter and Facebook, however there’s no way to add friends except through twitter/facebook.


AGON Online is a complete social platform for iPhone and iPod Touch games. It is a location-aware online high score system, complete with profiles, friends, awards etc. Think Xbox LIVE on-the-go.

From the developer’s perspective, you get:

  • Online, geotagged high scores (OpenFeint doens’t have these) including Google Maps integration
  • Awards (aka Achievements)
  • Player profiles, shared across all games
  • Friends list (with Facebook integration)
  • Cross promotion of your game – in other games and on Facebook!
  • Online / offline management
  • Scalable server infrastructure

AGON library files are over 50Mb and will add several megabytes to your binary. On the players’ perspective:

  • Compete with their friends for high scores and awards
  • See what other AGON enabled games their friends are playing (and buy them on the App Store)
  • Have new modes of play due to awards (for instance; survive for 3 minutes without shooting)
  • User walls that keep track of user’s history.
  • Allows to add friends in a wide variety of ways (email, AGON username, Facebook, address book)

It’s better suited then OpenFeint to keep track of your own high scores as well as global high scores.
Agon is free for both developers and players.


Scoreloop features all of the above, plus smart high score lists, push notifications, web widgets to show high scores on websites, analytics and challenges, custom avatar builder.

  • Smart High Score Lists allow to customize global high score lists to compare yourself to others based on location, age, gender, etc.
  • Analytics allow to keep track of gamer usage and identify trends to improve your game.
  • Players may earn Medals and Coins by playing the game or purchasing them with real money. Players will use Coins to initiate challenges and earn medals that display your skill level. Challenging other gamers will put both your Scoreloop Coins and reputation on the line.

At a glance, Scoreloop has even more features then the others. However, this coin system that represents a ROI for them may be seen as a trap by some users. And from the developers’ perspective, it comes as an SDK instead of a framework/library or source. This means a separate SDK for every iPhone OS version.


Geocade is free for all publishers. It features:

  • Location Aware Leaderboards with competition now at the local level across ten’s of thousands of city and towns worldwide.
  • Facebook Integretation
  • Can be customized to match your game’s look and feel
  • Ad support with revenue Share
  • Chat Rooms
  • Share/create leaderboards
  • Built in feedback surveys
  • Built in location-aware discussion boards
  • It also supports Android.


Plus+ is a free service by for iPhone games. part social network, part gamer network. It features game awards, leaderboards, a friends list, and direct challenges. It also has “followers”, like in Twitter and public/private avatars.
The website doesn’t allow for developers registration and there’s no clear way to get into the service.

Chillingo Crystal

Coming soon from Chillingo – they say: “social gaming functionality plus a host of new innovative features never seen before. Crystal SDKTM is set to become the de-facto standard for iPhone/iPod touch. Register your interest now and be the first to know.”
With a niche so filled by competitors, we’ll just see if this statement will be true.