Nov 15, 2013
You may have missed that the next-generation of consoleâ€™s biggest feature isnâ€™t shiny graphics, cloud computing or superior motion controls. Nope. The next big thing for console gaming is your Android device. The PS4 and Xbox One are going to turn your smartphones and tablets into â€˜second screensâ€™ with developers looking to offer companion apps to go with their big releases.
The PS4 and the Xbox One want to ensure they have your undivided attention this time around with the use of Android apps that â€˜enrichâ€™ your gaming experience whilst youâ€™re playing games, watching video content and when youâ€™re away from your console.
Similar to what the Wii U offers, minus the need for a proprietary device, these apps will increase the scope for potential singleplayer and multiplayer options when it comes to game mechanics.
Whether youâ€™re looking at getting a Sony or Microsoft console, both of the new consoles are getting their own Android apps that will be pivotal to how you play and interact with your new console.
Microsoft have the jump on Sony in this regard, as their app, Xbox Smartglass, has been available for quite some time. This video for last yearâ€™s Forza game shows how Smartglass technology was integrated into the game.
Whilst Smartglass has currently been limited in what it can do, it does offer a glimpse as to how your smartphone and tablet will become increasingly important in this new generation of consoles.
This head start doesnâ€™t mean that Sonyâ€™s offering is looking to be lacking. Similar to Smartglass, the Playstation App is set to offer functionality thatâ€™s on par with Microsoftâ€™s technology. At the recent Tokyo Game Show, Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide, demonstrated the application in action.
Big-name publishers like EA and Ubisoft are already well into development of so-called companion apps that exploit the increasingly symbiotic relationship between console and Smartphones/tablets. EA has Battlefield 4â€™s application that shows a detailed map and allows for quick loadout selection. Ubisoft are working on tie-ins for their Watch Dogs and The Division games. In The Divisionâ€™s case, by loading up the appropriate app, you gain access to a whole new class of character that plays unlike any other and otherwise isnâ€™t available.
This focus on apps has all come about because console makers and developers have noticed the fact that people donâ€™t watch TV or play games anymore. They multitask. The TVâ€™s on, but youâ€™re also on your laptop. Yes there may be playing a great game on your console, but youâ€™re also on your phone and tweeting at the same time.
Recognizing that not all publishers have money to spend on developing game-specific apps, itâ€™s interesting to see that both Microsoftâ€™s Smartglass and Sonyâ€™s Playstation App are being created with large and small developers in mind.
Shuhei Yoshida, when speaking to Playstation Blog, was keen to mention this as a key element behind the idea of the Playstation App:
â€œThere are many big publishers creating their own apps for their games, like Watch_Dogs or Battlefield, and thatâ€™s great, but smaller developers can use PlayStation App to connect to [the] PS4 and load an application, like drawing software for example, so that you donâ€™t have to download and install a specific app on your smartphone. Itâ€™s open to all PS4 developers to use.â€
With the new generation of consoles now upon us itâ€™s good to see that, Sony and Microsoft realise what an important role smartphones and tablets play in their customerâ€™s life. Owning an Android device for this new generation of consoles could mean you have the upper-hand in the battlefield, more ways to enjoy multiplayer games and give you access to content that you otherwise wouldnâ€™t see.
The old saying goes â€˜if you canâ€™t beat them, join themâ€™ and itâ€™s about time these console manufacturers and game developers joined in with what weâ€™ve been doing for years.