Apple is making some big improvements for gamers in the coming releases of iOS and OS X, and not just the new standardized gaming controllers we told you about previously. Not only is Apple introducing enhanced leaderboards, improved challenge modes, and new turn-based gaming features, it is also providing developers with tools to combat and prevent cheating.

Head below for details on everything Apple is doing in iOS 7 to improve the gaming experience…

Security/cheating |

Apple is making some big steps to try and combat cheaters in iOS 7’s redesign of Game Center. Specifically, we’ve learned Apple is going after gamers that spam leaderboards by implementing three new tools for developers to prevent cheating:

Spam-scores-iOS7-cheaterFirstly, Apple is integrating signed submissions for leaderboard results, allowing it to reject score submissions that it recognizes as being intercepted and tampered with.

Secondly, Apple is introducing new features inside of iTunes Connect to help get rid of spam on leaderboards. Developers can now limit the max scores for leaderboards depending on the limitations of their game. By setting a maximum limit, the spammers with unrealistic scores won’t appear to others on the leaderboards or in Game Center. And if devs ever make a mistake on setting that limit, Apple will store all the scores above the max limit to be restored a later time.

The last thing Apple is doing to stop cheaters is adding new tools to help devs keep an eye out for suspicious activity and manage player activity, such as deleting scores and blocking cheaters, within iTunes Connect.

Leaderboards |

Leaderboards-iOS7While giving devs the ability to crack down on cheaters spamming leaderboards, Apple is also improving how leaderboards look and work for both developers and users.

Currently devs can only implement up to 25 leaderboards in their games. Now, Apple is increasing that number to 500 and also providing “sets” that will let devs have separate sets of leaderboards categorized, for example, by level or difficulty mode. Leaderboards within apps also get a redesign along with the rest of iOS 7 as pictured to the right.

The leaderboard sets can also be managed directly through iTunes Connect:


Improved Challenges |

New-Leaderboards-iOS7-01You can already challenge other players in apps using Game Center, but in iOS 7 Apple is providing developers with more fine-grained control over challenges to allow modal challenges tailored to specific game styles. For example, when a user accepts a challenge, devs can launch a separate game mode so the user’s score only goes towards earning that challenge.  In another example, a racing game could specify which car has to be used to complete a specific challenge.

In iOS 7, there is also a new friend picker and message composer when challenging someone through Game Center within an app (as pictured right), allowing you to select one or multiple opponents and send a challenge without ever entering the Game Center app.

Sprite Kit |

Apple is introducing a new 2D rendering engine for iOS and OS X dubbed Sprite Kit. The engine offers a built-in physics engine, full particle system, and integration with core image and video for effects like CIFilters and masking.

It’s integrated with Xcode and also offers a texture atlas tool, visual effects, and much more. While it’s billed as a 2D engine, we’re told Apple thinks it will also be helpful to devs creating complex 3D games. As part of this effort, Apple is also making production quality sample code available that game devs can use to build their games. We’re told Apple showed off a sample code game dubbed ‘Adventure’ at one of its WWDC sessions showing sprites, parallax, collisions, and physics running on the new Sprite Kit engine (as pictured at the top of this post).

Apple is also making some performance improvements for Open GL ES for iOS game developers.

Turn-based multiplayer |

Apple is making some big improvements for turn-based games in iOS 7. It already supported up to 30 simultaneous matches with up to 16 players, but now it’s introducing new features such as localized turn messages and turn reminders. Perhaps the most notable new feature for gamers is a turn-based exchange system that will allow developers to offer in-game auctions and trading and players to send short messages and taunts to each other. It will also offer the ability to have games with simultaneous turns.

Controllers |

We’ve already told you much about what Apple has planned for making game controllers standard in iOS 7 through its MFi program. Here are a few more details:


Apple will offer 2 types of game controllers through its MFi program and two configurations all with pressure sensitive buttons and consistent layouts. The first type of controller is the form-fitting controller which allows your iOS device to be docked right into the controller. The second will be a standalone controller that connects over Bluetooth.

A “Standard” configuration will offer A, B, X, Y face buttons, a traditional D-Pad, and right and left shoulder buttons (only available for form-fitting controllers), while an “Extended” configuration will add an extra set of left and right shoulder buttons and thumbsticks in addition to what’s on the standard gamepads. Apple’s aim is to offer a standard controller and button layout that will work with any game.

Two companies are already working with Apple on new game controllers including Logitech and Moga, who we’re told have been allowing devs to test the new game controller framework on prototypes at WWDC and plan on releasing products this fall.

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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.