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When it comes to supporting a robust community of console gamers, Microsoft's Xbox Live pretty much sets the standard. Valve's Steam service has long ruled the roost in regards to the PC games community, and the same may be said of Steam-capable Mac games. But with the release of Mountain Lion, Apple hopes to draw the attention of Mac gamers to its previously-only-on-iOS Game Center. After fooling around with the application for a while, it's clear Game Center for Mac has potential, but there's an extreme void of currently compatible titles.
Strangely, there's a good chance many Mac users may have missed the addition of Game Center to Mac OS X all together. If you're the type of person who doesn't dig into release notes (read our helpful guide right here) Game Center is a bit inconspicuous. After upgrading to Mountain Lion, Game Center appears in the Applications folder, or is easily found in Launchpad.
The first time Game Center is opened, you're prompted to sign in with your Apple ID. If you're already an iOS gamer, linking an existing account will carry over your profile, achievements, and friends. The entire setup process is very straightforward, and in a matter of seconds, you'll find a Game Center experience nearly identical to what's found on iOS devices. The usual options to add friends, browse games, or compare leaderboard scores are all here.
Even with what amounts to a seamless transition of Game Center from iOS to Mac, the application feels just a teensy bit useless, at the moment. Why would anyone use Game Center on a Mac to interact with their iOS library? If there's any need for this version, it's to integrate Mac games. But as of this writing, Game Center's Mac lineup is really poor; only eight Mac games are currently compatible.
Ultimately, if Apple wants Game Center for Mac to turn into anything memorable, it will have to encourage developers to support more cross-platform titles. Maintaining scores or saves between iOS and Mac games sounds like a great feature. Otherwise, Game Center is likely doomed to sit unnoticed on your hard drive.