At E3 this year, Microsoft announced that they are going to be taking advantage of a second screen with a new program called “SmartGlass”. This program utilizes phones and tablets as remotes to control consumers Xbox 360 by giving information about movies, in-game Intel, and additional Xbox live information, making your tablet a hub for utility control and additional information with your game console.
After the implementation of SmartGlass, the 360, Wii U, and PlayStation will all have a second screen functionality, but what is the best utilization of this? The PlayStation 3/Vita utilize cross-play to pick up your game where you left off and play on the go. The Wii U lets players play their game in the controller with the TV in use by others. And with the Xbox utilizing it for information and utility control, SmartGlass is the clear odd one out.
Peter Molyneux has his reservations about SmartGlass telling Gametrailers this: “”The only question I’ve got [about SmartGlass] is what am I actually playing the game with? Am I playing it with my controller? Am I playing it with Kinect? Am I playing it with my phone? How am I going to balance all these devices? That’s why I’m wondering, does this all really fit together? Is it a real cohesive plan for the future? I’m a bit confused what I’m supposed to use” (VideoGamer.com). I think this best describes my issues with the service as well. Being able to see intel from various points of interest in big name games is great, but there are an additional two issues with this: How well will this be supported, and will players be more interested in actually playing the game rather than looking at Intel?
With SmartGlass showing some serious issues with implementation and support, Wii U takes a different take on this “Second Screen Utilization”. Wii U has support with its entire library due to the controller being the number one feature and focus of the entire console. The ability to play your game while the TV is off, and multiple interactions supported with each full title makes Wii U a very good utilization of the second screen, and why wouldn’t it be? A console created around this utilization should be done well, in fact the only failing I see in the Wii U are minor and almost nit-picking. One of which is the fact that the Wii U (as far as I know) can only be used to play games on it’s own screen as long as the player is in range of the console. The other problem would be that when gamers are playing full blown Wii U titles on their television, that their focus might get too divided between the controller and the TV, but again it is nitpicking. I would say that the Wii U has successful second screen utilization.
Finally the second screen utilization that Sony is using is the use of the PlayStation 3 games Cross-Play functionality with the PlayStation Vita. Playing with Full Console players on multiple games, whether you are on the go or at home between Vita’s and PS3s is a great utilization, as well as saving your game and picking up where the player left off on the Vita for being on the go. Great utilization and a very exciting prospect, however the failing of the PlayStation second screen utilization also has some serious problems as well. The first of which is support. How many games will support extensive cross-play compatibility in the coming months? And what games will the consumer need to buy twice for this to work? Additionally the PlayStation Vita and PS3 are full blown consoles that are sold separately, while no one should buy a full PlayStation device based on solely the need to use cross-play functionality, together they cost $550 and is something only dedicated PlayStation fans will enjoy while the Wii U will give every single player a second screen from day 1.
What console has the best utilization? The Smart Glass with control of utility features, The Wii U with full-fledged support? Or the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita with long range cross-play functionality? You decide in the comments below.
Sources: Game Trailers & Video Gamer