Apple boasts portable gaming leadership, launches Game Center for iPod Touch

Claiming leadership in the videogame industry is no easy feat (especially after joining it only two years ago), but Apple CEO Steve Jobs did anything but mince his words at the launch of the new iPod range today.

Speaking at Apple’s press conference in San Francisco, Jobs claimed the iPod Touch and iPhone range of devices has “50%+ the marketshare for portable game players in the U.S. and worldwide,” and boasted over 1.5 billion downloads of “games and entertainment titles” since the launch of the iTunes App Store. According to Jobs, this makes it “the number one portable game player” on the market.

Although it is debatable whether iOS is actually a viable videogame platform, Apple is making concerted effort to validate its position to serious gamers by announcing the multiplayer-centric Game Center for iPod Touch. The service works in a similar way to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, where players can connect with others across gaming sessions, buy DLC, earn achievements and check out leaderboard ranks.

Initially announced at the iPhone 4 press conference back in July, Game Center will be bundled with the new iOS 4.1; meaning that all iPods and iPhones capable of running the firmware update will support the service when it’s released next week.

The new iPod Touch will be available from next week starting at $229 (£189). The iOS 4.1 firmware update featuring the new Game Center app will be free for supported devices.