Game Center for Mountain Lion: Apple to take desktop gaming seriously

Apple has announced that it is to making gaming on a Mac a lot easier and take it a lot more seriously, detailing a number of new gaming features in OS X Mountain Lion, which is expected to be released in the summer.

Rather than turn to the likes of EA or other developers to try to woo gamers, Apple is looking at what it can do itself, opting to bring Game Center from the iPad, iPhone and iPod to the desktop for the first time as well as introduce AirPlay Mirroring to allow gamers to play games on their TV screen quickly and easily.

As with the iOS version of Game Center, the new OS X Mountain Lion version of Game Center -which sadly won't be included in the first OS developer preview out on Thursday 16 February - will allow you to make new friends, discover new games, and check out leaderboards and achievements for your favourite apps taping into the same account if you've already got setup on the iOS version. 

You'll also be able to use the new app to find opponents, talk to others via in-game chat, and get notifications for friend requests and game invites with a new notification system also being introduced.

Apple is hoping that the move to make gaming, and gaming discovery, more easy to use and share will boost gaming on the Mac desktop in the same way it has in iOS.

"We are bringing GameKit to the Mac as well," Apple told Pocket-lint before adding that the new features "bring a lot of capabilities to the Mac that hadn't been their before".

On of those capabilities where the service is really going to shine is its ability to allow OS X users to play against others on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod.

That opens up the possibility of more than 20,000 Game Center–enabled games that are on iOS in the App Store if they were to make a desktop version of their app.

Demoing the new tech to Pocket-lint at a behind-closed-doors, one-to-one briefing, Apple showed off how iPad users will, in the future, be able to play games such as Reckless Racing 2 against Mac desktop users - even though they are on two different operating systems and two very different devices.

But it's not just Games Center that aims to boost the gaming prowess of the Apple mac laptops in the future.

Apple is also bringing AirPlay Mirroring to the Mac. When the new OS X Mountain Lion launches users with an Apple TV will be able to quickly beam their laptops desktop at 720p resolution to an Apple TV and therefore a television screen in the room.

Anything, including games that appear on the desktop, is automatically mirrored on the TV screen for all to see.

Sadly, Apple told Pocket-lint that at the moment all the new feature does is mirror the screen and that the laptop or computer needed to be on and. in the case of the company's laptops, be open for the AirPlay technology to work.

It is not too far fetched though to see a time in the future when both those issues are resolved with developers and Apple is using the laptop screen as a second screen, in the same way that the iPad already does in Reckless Racing when it is shared with an Apple TV - in that case a map of the race track.  

AirPlay Mirroring combined with Game Center and a standard wireless game controller could mean that Apple has created the very early steps in console gaming.

The Xbox 360 and PS3 teams had better start watching their backs. 

- For more news on the latest from OS X Mountain Lion check out our dedicated Mac OS X homepage.