The creation of a system-wide social gaming network for iDevices is a great idea, but Apple’s announcement of Game Center is a little late in coming. Over the past year a number of services have come to the forefront to fill the social networking void on the iPhone, including AGON, Geocade, Scoreloop and ngmoco’s Plus+. Currently supporting more than 1500 games and reaching 19 million players, OpenFeint is the biggest player in the field and seemingly has the most to lose from Apple’s recent announcement – so why does their CEO seem so chipper and optimistic?

“Apple is a key partner and we are delighted that they have validated the first half of the OpenFeint vision,” says Jason Citron, CEO and founder of Aurora Feint. “We can now fulfill the second half: OpenFeint X and Virtual Goods based Social Games.”

Already running in Aurora Feint 3 for the iPad and opening up to the OpenFeint development community in the near future, OpenFeint X is the latest iteration of the popular social gaming platform which introduces virtual goods into the mix and encourages the freemium business model.

“OpenFeint has become a de-facto standard in core online game services such as leaderboards and achievements,” said Peter Relan, Chairman of Aurora Feint. “That’s the first step, but the real money opportunity is in allowing developers to create the next Zynga or CrowdStar, which will happen with the virtual goods social games platform that we’ve created in OpenFeint X.”

OpenFeint X features include a full virtual goods store, detailed analytics, a game-specific currency wallet, and downloadable game assets so game content can be pushed live in real time. Once launched, gamers accounts will transition to new OpenFeint X accounts automatically.

“OpenFeint X is currently built on top of OpenFeint and in the future it will also sit on Apple’s Game Center social graph, achievements and leaderboards so developers and gamers don’t miss a step,” says Citron. “Our developers can be 100 percent assured that we will continue to invest in OpenFeint so our 1500 live games, 2000 games in development and 19M players have a flawless experience with OpenFeint and Game Center.”