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Apple’s Game Center is a social gaming network that is going to grow to dominate mobile social gaming over the next year.  While not completely ready for prime time when it was launched with iOS 4.1, it has enough functionality to make it worthwhile for both users and app developers.  Over 11,000 people have already posted their scores on the leaderboards of Fieldrunners, one of the most popular applications with Game Center support.  I thought this was high until I noticed over 18000 high scores for Word Scramble Challenge, over 34000 high scores for World Series of Poker, and a whopping 148408 high scores for Flight Control (I’m currently ranked #128662 – I guess I need to practice).

When Game Center launched on Sept. 8, the twitter feeds were full of Game Center friend requests.  Over the next few days, many people managed to gather a large number of friends.  However, to my knowledge, the highest number of friends  you can have is 501.

iDarkman with 501 Game Center friends

iDarkman's 501 Friend Limit

After reaching 500 friends, future friend requests that are accepted by your potential friends are ignored.  Getting to 501 friends may require someone to request your friendship.  I have seen no evidence of anyone having more than 501 friends.  If you or anyone you know has more than 501 Game Center friends, please post a comment to correct me.

So, the bottom line is, don’t be too promiscuous in sending and accepting friend requests.  While Apple may increase the 500 limit in the future, it is unlikely they are going to make it much higher – perhaps 999 one day.  There are other reasons to keep a short friend list.  When you invite multiplayer, your entire friend list is shown and there is no search feature.  So, unless you enjoy scrolling, don’t max out your friend list.

The median number of friends that people have is easily less than 10 and probably less than a handful.  The best way to find friends is to find a game with multiplayer support, such as Words Worth, and then invite friends from the leaderboard to be friends and play a multiplayer game.  This is how Apple intended the friend network to work – more like Facebook and less like twitter.

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