2012 Year in Review: The rise of the second screen

Sections: Consoles, Developers, Features, Game-Companies, Handhelds, iPhone & iPod Touch & iPad, PCs, Publishers, Smartphones, Wii U, Windows, Xbox-360

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Every year brings a new trend in gaming. Time will tell if those trends turn out to be something other than a fad, but they are darn interesting to explore while they’re still relevant. In 2012, we saw the first applications of second screen gaming led by Nintendo and Microsoft.

Xbox SmartGlass has the potential to change the way we interact with games and other forms of media. Microsoft offers the most approachable form of the second screen experience by allowing owners of Android, iOS and Windows devices to download the SmartGlass application for free. Although there aren’t that many games that utilize Xbox SmartGlass yet, I’ve found the technology in general to be very functional.

One of my extended usage sessions with Xbox SmartGlass came during the 2012 presidential election. Microsoft streamed one of CNN’s broadcasts through the Xbox 360, while the SmartGlass app presented facts and polls to keep me invested throughout. I think SmartGlass is still a novelty at this point, but I hope Microsoft really pushes it in 2013.

Nintendo’s second screen experience is a key feature on the Wii U. Unlike SmartGlass, the Wii U GamePad is unavoidable. Games are specifically built with the GamePad in mind. ZombieU is one game that makes great use of the GamePad.

Nintendo also uses the GamePad outside of gaming in applications such as TVii. TVii in general still has a ways to go based on what I’ve seen of it. However, the appeal of making the GamePad your main or second screen is certainly there.

Sony is the only major gaming company to not take part in second screen gaming. On the plus side, Sony is ahead of the competition in terms of cloud gaming with its purchase of Gaikai. Will Sony combine the two technologies together? We’ll see what happens next year.

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