Rumors had been bubbling up that Intel would be investing in OpenFeint, the social mobile game platform from Aurora Feint, and it looks like that’s the case. Intel Capital has reportedly earmarked $3 million for OpenFeint, bringing the company’s total funding to $12 million.
OpenFeint has gained a great deal of attention this year, with an earlier investment of $5 million from China-based The9, and the launch of a cross-platform game portal enabling live, multiplayer games for Android and Android-iPhone matches.
The platform has brought a lot of encouragement for Android game developers, as its platform can be utilized as a social mechanism, leader boards, multiplayer games, and cross-promotions. The decision for OpenFeint to take its platform to Android was a major point of validation for Google’s mobile OS, though it’s hesitant for development on Windows Phone 7.
For Intel, the interest in social mobile gaming isn’t necessarily a surprising one. While the chip maker has lost a bit of relevancy with declining PC sales, it’s already begun shifting focus to the mobile arena. One of its biggest chip announcements of the year was SandyBridge, a combo chip that is optimized for gaming devices. Mobile gaming in particular is expected to generate high revenues, from advertising and in-app sales. These happen to be two areas in which OpenFeint is primed and ready.
Both Intel and OpenFeint aren’t without competition. The race to own social mobile anything has already gotten underway. Google has made several investments in a number of related companies, including Zynga. In Google’s own investment and acquisition portfolio, you’ll find a range of relevant startups, covering virtual goods, social recommendations, and game developers.
Apple, too, is anticipating a lot of activity around mobile gaming apps, with the enhancement of its own OS to support multiplayer live gaming for several of its devices. Its app store is reaching new Apple users, as it’s been added to new MacBook docs, and it’s finding ways to layer in new social capabilities around its application hub.
Platforms such as Papaya Mobile have also been ramping up their own efforts, for Android in particular. A series of recent partnerships has enabled in-app payments for game developers using its platform, making way for some serious revenue-making opportunities around the virtual goods market.