When iOS 9 hit beta last summer, I heard concerns from developers about Game Center. Never Apple’s most-loved app, it had seemingly fallen into a state of disrepair. In many cases, people were reporting it outright failed to work.
Six months later, little has changed. If anything, Game Center has gotten worse, with major problems increasingly widespread. These include the Game Center app launching as a white screen, and Game Center freezing the Settings app when you try to access its options.
You might wave this away as a trifling problem. If so, I imagine you don’t play games. Game Center isn’t just about logging highscores — it’s also crucial for the functionality of many turn-based multiplayer titles. Without Game Center, they cannot and do not work. Additionally, some games freeze on start-up, because developers had quite reasonably expected Game Center would at least be functional. This makes for angry users, who can’t directly contact developers through the App Store and therefore leave bad reviews. Developers are now updating their apps to effectively check whether Game Center is broken, flinging up a dialog box accordingly, and at least allowing players access.
This state of affairs is ridiculous. I have three working iOS devices, and only one now has a functioning Game Center. As someone who writes about iOS games for a living, this issue affects me professionally and impacts on coverage for developers, since I cannot write about games the broken Game Center is blocking access to. But more importantly, it makes me question Apple’s interest in fixing bugs, and especially dealing with anything relating to games.
If a critical bug blocked access to any other default app and caused countless other apps on the system to fail, would we still be waiting for a fix six months later? I’ve no idea whether there’s anyone senior at Apple responsible for and advocating on behalf of gaming. If not, Apple should do some recruiting, because right now it feels like the exec team doesn’t give a hoot about games and gamers, beyond the odd high-end title showing off the power of an iPhone or iPad at an Apple event.
Further reading: TouchArcade thread Game Center Stopped Working, which has over 50 pages at the time of writing.