At Microsoft's 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) press briefing, the company introduced a new technology called Xbox SmartGlass. What appears to be an app for tablets and smartphones will allow you to tie your console experience to other related content, such as in-game maps and information about the game you are playing or the show you are watching.
While very little was shown in the way of interacting with a game through SmartGlass — a brief and generic football playbook scene occured — many game journalists and professionals made the association to Nintendo's upcoming Wii U system with its touchscreen Wii U Gamepad.
The overwhelming majority saw it as undercutting the Big N's new console and beating Nintendo at its own game, but what I saw was a possible savior for Nintendo's storied third-party woes.
The reason "multiplatform" means "Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, but not the Wii" is two-fold. The first being the Wii's obvious technical limitations, which the new Wii U allievates (if only for a couple years at the most until Sony and Microsoft reveal their big new systems), but second and more pressing is the method of play control. A Wii Remote is not a 360 controller, and it never will be, but with the Wii U Gamepad and Xbox SmartGlass having such an obvious overlap, cross-developing for both platforms seems to be relatively natural.
Third-party studios shied away from Nintendo when it meant appealing to only a single console's audience (especially one that skewed younger) when you could get a bigger multiplatform population instead, but the risk is significantly lower if the 360 and Wii U can share a few titles between each other (which the more traditional-looking Wii U Pro Controller only enhances). Plus, having a graphical leg up and its awesome stable of first-party software, Nintendo has a real chance at dominating the market early.
Nintendo shouldn't see SmartGlass as a threat as much as a window to getting back into the third-party conversation and reclaiming core gamers. Whether they utilize the opportunity is up to them.
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