In our recent interview with Aurora Feint CEO, Jason Citron, we learned that one of the bigger projects the mobile game platform developers have been working on is OpenFeint X — focusing on virtual goods-based games.

The company, with 28 million users strong and growing,  just announced their first wave of developers for these virtual goods games. In the second half of the year we can expect titles from PikPok, RetroDreamer and Halfbrick Studios to release titles through OpenFeint X.

The OpenFeint X platform is based wholly in the cloud, allowing developers to add and remove virtual goods to their games via in-app purchases – no server work needed. What this means, is that it opens up the potential for the game developers who now won’t have to worry about having to invest server architecture, and can put their focus entirely on developing and updating games. They will be able maintain a full virtual goods store, provide game-specific currency with real time revenue optimization and a sandbox for server-side code.

Gavin Bowman from RetroDreamer, the studio behind the iPhone game Sneezies, shares his excitement:

“We’ve worked closely with OpenFeint to develop and refine the concept for our first iOS social game and are excited to launch the title with OpenFeint X support. For a developer like us it would be impossible to release a social game and  build the necessary server architecture without OpenFeint.”

Portfolio Manager for PikPok, Jos Ruffel, elaborates more on the partnership with Aurora Feint:

“We’ve had tremendous success promoting our traditional games on OpenFeint and think that now is the perfect time to enter the virtual goods market. With OpenFeint X, we will be able to release and update content in new and interesting ways, benefiting both us and  OpenFeint’s enormous player community. They really do offer a compelling partnership.”

According to a recent study by Magid and Associates, the virtual goods economy on smart phones is abundant and demand is rapidly growing – an estimated $168 million plus, in the U.S. alone just last year.

Jason Citron, CEO of Aurora Feint, explains the potential:

“With few good quality virtual goods-based social games available for smart phones, the market already exceeds $168 MM. We think that this is a tremendous revenue opportunity for game developers. OpenFeint X offers game developers the opportunity to enter this market quickly without having to build the internal server expertise required to support scalable social games.”

It’s evident that the mobile gaming market is growing more and more — and the release of the new iPhone 4 is nothing short of a catapult into the success of the market. The quality of mobile games has been increasing with beefier features, storylines, mechanics and other additions. The virtual goods market definitely seems like an opportunity with mobile gaming – relating to the success of FarmVille (now on the iPhone) and other titles like WeRule and GodFinger which all have virtual goods that can be purchased inside the application.

To create a system for developers where they only have to worry about making a great game and where the rest is a simple process will only be another factor in the growth of quality mobile gaming.

Do you play or are you interested in mobile games that feature virtual goods and in-app purchases?

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