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Second Screen Trends in the Video Game World

The second screen experience is taking off for more than just the television world. Video game developers such as DICE and Ubisoft are creating second screen features that enhance game capabilities and add worthwhile features through the companion app. For example, DICE’s Battlefield 4 is using the second screen as an integral part of the gameplay experience, according to The Escapist.

Console developers Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all use a type of second screen implementation for the upcoming console generation, with Sony putting the greatest focus on it. According to, major networks have been using companion apps for some time with their most-popular shows. If you want to get technical, the video game industry has seen second screen features as early as 2004, according to the Financial Post. Back then, a Game Boy Advance (GBA) could interact with Nintendo’s Game Cube as the companion device. Some games showed stats and maps through the GBA, along with other features, according to the Financial Post. Today’s second screen implementation in games is more sophisticated, but it still retains the same feel of the original option.

In-Game Implementation

DICE’s latest information dump on Battlefield 4 reveals that they’re pushing Battlelog as a seamless second screen addition to gameplay. Battlelog has seen this before in Battlefield 3, but now you can use it to change your loadout, look at your stats, and pull up an interactive mini map on your device. The server browser is also available through a smartphone or tablet. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed 4 also uses second screen for minimaps, treasure collection, and waypoint creation. Finally, Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs has a second screen app that provides significant game play advantage and ties in intricately with the whole concept of the game through showing objects you hacked, interacting with the world, and tracking people.

Console Integration

Microsoft’s SmartGlass might get a large portion of the gaming press’ attention when second screen is mentioned, but all of the consoles have acknowledged that this feature is necessary for the upcoming generation. Nintendo WiiU’s control has an embedded screen that displays game content to the player, Microsoft Xbox One’s SmartGlass features allow for multitasking on the television, and Sony Playstation 4 uses its handheld console Vita to push games with Remote Play. Sony has already announced its official second screen app for iOS and Android devices, not forcing gamers to rely on the Vita if they want to experience second screen content. Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto told Escapist Magazine that it might take some time for gamers to get used to a double screen, particularly when it’s integrated into the controller itself, but it’s more than just a gimmick. Each console is using the second screen concept in drastically different implementations, with Sony’s app coming the closest to the television standard implementation. It could be years before developers take full advantage of the possibilities that come with interactive second screen technology, but with plenty of buzz surrounding this technology at E3, it’s certainly caught gamers’ attention. Now it’s a waiting game until the latest console war begins in earnest to determine which company is taking the proper approach to second screens.


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