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E3 2012: Battle of the second screens

2 min read

How did Jamie Oliver get here?

We all knew coming into this years E3 that Nintendo were going to be showing us more of the Wii-U with its tablet controller but what took many people by surprise is that Microsoft and Sony did the same.

So with all three major players pushing a second screen gaming experience for the next year at least who has the best offering.


Nintendo has the jump on everyone simply because its Wii-U will be sold with a table controller which means that anyone making games for the device will know for sure that the user will have a tablet.

This is a massive advantage and is the reason that the Nintendo Wii completely decimated the sales charts compared to the PlayStation Move even if the Move is technically a better device.

But is a second screen enough of a pull to go out and buy an entirely new console? With Nintendo’s conference still to come they could still pull a hat out of rabbit.


Sony revealed in its keynote that the PS Vita will be utilised by a few developers this year as a second screen for PS3 games and with it’s buttons, sticks, touch screens and rear touch screen it isn’t short on gameplay options.

However its screen is a little small and that may limit the opportunities given to it, not to mention the price tag on the Vita is still eye watering and as such every developer will know that only a select few users will have a PS3 and a PS Vita so why put the effort into developing for that combination.


Microsoft took me completely by surprise with the announcement of Xbox Smart Glass, we had heard one or two rumours but nothing serious until the few hours before their keynote.

What they’ve done is completely abandon the idea of making their own second screen controller and have rather simply created software applications that people can load onto their Android or iOS smartphones and tablets.

Instantly securing millions of peripherals and possibly taking the lead in this new direction.

However their tactic has the downside of not fully knowing how much power or capability the user has on their side and not having any buttons or analogue sticks which will severely limit the gameplay possibilities.


I suspect that with such a fragmented market no single player will dominate in the beginning but I think Microsoft’s tactic of handing the hardware over to everyone else is a good move and could see them take the win in the long term.

But more importantly, what do you think? Is it all a gimmick or is this an exciting new direction that the industry is heading into.

Last Updated: June 5, 2012

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