Onyx Online, for the iPhone, is kind of like Xbox Live. Sort of. The ambitious service is the brainchild of Trism developer Steve Demeter, who hopes to add a slew of “social media” features to iPhone games, like leaderboards, achievements, forums, and the like. There’s even a pissing contest feature, wherein Onyx-enabled games will allow players to view each other’s profiles, scores, challenge friends, and see what games people are playing. Like we said, just add a headset and some 15-year-old boys screaming “your gay” and you have Xbox Live (and no, there’s no typo there— even when they scream it, they use the wrong spelling, just like in the forums).
The thing is, Onxy was created more out of a sense of self-preservation amongst developers than it was keeping it real for people who game on the iPhone. As the App Store becomes cluttered with hundreds upon hundreds of throwaway games, Demeter told Wired the indie developer is in danger of being muscled out by big boys like Sega, who have the marketing budget to get their titles (for better or worse) to the top of the heap.
So by making games talk to one another, or by encouraging some competition among the players, a pack mentality begins to take shape with the smaller games. A rising tide raises all boats, or the saying goes.
"Right now games don't introduce the social aspect at all on the iPhone," Demeter told Wired. "If there is a social aspect it's an island. If these users are playing Trism, they're playing Trism; it's an island. How does that tie into other puzzle games? If players are still connected to a larger whole then they're more likely to keep playing other games."
Demter then claimed Onyx will "save" the App Store. For now, we'll agree that it could save something—Demeter's business—but we'll be watching this one nevertheless. [Wired]