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Published on June 17th, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor

Editorial: Microsoft SmartGlass is Dumb: Why Second Screen Gaming Should Stay on the Wii U

Okay, okay, you’re not completely sold on the Wii U. You don’t want anything to do with Nintendo’s next-gen console because you can’t wait for the Xbox 720 or PS4 or any other hideous non-likely names that would ever make it to the final product.

Second screens have been long acknowledged by desktop users. That second screen allows you to game and surf the web on the fly. Heck, you can edit photos and watch how-to videos while picking songs to stream simultaneously–all on the same computer. This expanded desktop experience has allowed for more virtual desk space, but SmartGlass takes it one step further. It brings transparency to your experience. Wait, didn’t the Wii U already do that?

Nintendo’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Scott Moffitt had an interesting comment for Forbes.com at this year’s E3.

This was taken from the article that can be found on Forbes.com.

“With Wii, when we brought out motion controls and introduced that as a new idea in gaming, initially there were people who didn’t understand it. Three years later, our competitors both came out with their own motion control systems,” he said, referring to Xbox Kinect and Playstation Move.
“We announced second screen gaming last year, and it’s somewhat flattering that it only took people a year this time around,” he continued.

More seriously, he said, Smart Glass just doesn’t look like a peripheral for a games system. Microsoft may have used TV shows and IMDB to showcase Smart Glass, but as far as games go, gamers trying to incorporate SmartGlass into play sessions may find themselves limited by their number of hands.
“I’m not sure how, as a gamer, I would manipulate a second screen with most hands on my controller,” says Moffitt. “We don’t have three hands, unfortunately.”

The results from the prior pioneering on Nintendo’s part has left other companies to follow suite. For starters, the PlayStation Move was a blatant tap into the Nintendo design. From a business perspective, I do feel that competitive markets such as these breed new life into the technology. Look how many devices now include gyroscopes and motion controls. All of which give an extra dimension to gamers. Now the next dimension is a transparent desktop or “screen” that allows you to not abide by the day old rule of needing a TV to play.

The Wii U implements the technology and does it well. There is much room for the company to grow by providing tablet-like features into a bundle that could be wrapped up together for the regular price of a tablet. The Wii U Gamepad also brings something that I can’t stand about gaming on a tablet, which is having a controller or physical buttons. Having to pinch, tap or tilt for moves gets old quickly, particularly as graphics and power continue to improve on these devices.

I can see where SmartGlass can be a great extender of entertainment and other features. Cool, let’s grab some music and queue it up. Sure, I’d like to see information about the video that is playing on screen. Great. But, don’t expect me to want to play a FPS or strategy game with my iPad or Galaxy tab.

So, who deserves this tech? Which implementation is right? I think the answer is obvious–and it doesn’t require an extra hand to use properly.

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About the Author

I am Greg, aka LaWiiG. Thanks for coming to take a look around! Retro is the way to go! Do yourself a favor and show love by playing retro games.

  • In my opinion, a short-sighted view. An expensive, proprietary controller, versus a standard that works with the devices you already have? It’s not a contest. There’s an installed base of developers for iOS, Android, and Windows 7. Or you can spend time and money learning to develop for an untried platform. What happens when adoption rates for what will undoubtedly amount to a $400-$500 game system don’t meet expected sales?

    You’re also assuming symmetric gameplay, as opposed to asymmetric gameplay. Why would you want to play an FPS on a smaller screen when you have the larger screen right there? On the smaller screen, you could use it as a PDA for the FPS. Or have player two be the guy in the C130 overhead, looking at the overview of the battlefield. You don’t need to duplicate the experience between the screens…and I’d argue that it’s pointless to do so.

    Nintendo is an innovating company…no question. But their experiments fail as often as they succeed. It’s great that Nintendo is willing to take those risks. Occasional;y, those risks pay off, like they did with the Wii. To compare Kinect to a Wii/Move controller isn’t exactly accurate in any case.

    Last, your comment :”Didn’t the WiiU already do that?” The WiiU has done exactly nothing but tell people what their system will allegedly do. It hasn’t been released, there’s no final software, no pricing, and almost no info from devs regarding how far into the dev cycle they are with WiiU games. Just because someone says they WILL do something, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen the way that they say. Remember the Phantom? 😛

    • First things first: LMAO @ the Phantom. Epic point right there.

      At the same time though, while it would be fantastic to have an asymmetrical gaming experience with a buddy controlling the second screen, all of this is technically still up in the air. You both make great points though.

      There are no guaranteed buttons for any handheld screen other than the Wii U Gamepad, which would definitely ruin the experience if they’re aiming for the same type of gameplay. But at the same time, the question is how many developers are willing to add more dev time to a device that isn’t a part of the core system. Add-Ons tend to get horrible adoption rate from developers because it’s not a part of the out-of-the-box experience.

      Both tablet experiences have yet to be proven, and both definitely have their issues to get past to be taken seriously over the long term.

  • All it will take is an accessory that has analog sticks and buttons on each end that has adjustable grip and can latch around various screens. Once that is available it’s just like a Wii U.

  • yarinoma

    We already know because you’ve already said it.

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