The general consensus from most of the people we've talked with in the industry is that Xbox SmartGlass is a very smart move for Microsoft. Publishers seem genuinely excited by it (almost more so than by Wii U - though, that's purely anecdotal) and this was perhaps best exemplified by EA Labels boss Frank Gibeau who could hardly contain his enthusiasm for SmartGlass during E3.
"We love SmartGlass. I think it's a killer initiative. I really like it a lot," he told GamesIndustry International. "It ties into what we're trying to do as a company. What we're trying to do as a developer of games is - we're looking at multi-screen environments as being really key in what's happening in gaming. You play games on your mobile. You play games on your PC. You play games on your console. So giving people more access points through multiple screens is a great thing."
EA Sports' Madden franchise was one of the few actual gaming examples used to illustrate SmartGlass during the Microsoft E3 briefing.
"It does definitely put positioning pressure on Nintendo because you don't have to buy a new system"
"Having SmartGlass capabilities, where it can talk between machines in a consistent way is fantastic, so we think there's a lot of innovation and the Madden example that they showed is just scratching the surface of play calling, play construction," Gibeau said. "You can imagine being able to do things in a shooter, where you're calling in command modes or squad based commands. So I think it's a great idea, the fact that they're going to standardize an API that we can write to, so we can make it a seamless experience for the customer, whether it's a Windows Phone, an Android, or an iOS is great."
EA Sports head Andrew Wilson also sounded off on the importance of SmartGlass to us.
"I think it's very important for a couple of reasons. SmartGlass will bring in a whole new audience to gaming, but with respect to SmartGlass integration with a console experience it is changing the way people interact with consoles. If you look at Madden or FIFA this year, they have a series of multi-screen applications that allow you to manage your connected career or manage your FIFA Ultimate team while you're in front of the screen or while you're away from the screen. What that's enabling is people to engage in a world that's very, very important to them that they're very passionate about even while they're away from their 60-inch television. So when we look at the future and what Microsoft is planning to do at an API and SDK level that only makes our job easier to deliver a gameplay schema that's absolutely prevalent in the way gamers play today," he said.
"If you think about playing someone online and you're playing someone really tough and rather than scroll through a bunch of plays you could draw a completely new play because you're seeing holes in their coverage and you can do that on-the-fly and it's fully integrated... that's pretty cool. So we're excited about it. We started it last year and we're doing it across our portfolio this year. And once we have that SmartGlass feature integrated with Xbox 360 I think we can deliver even cooler stuff," Wilson added.
Some have pointed out that SmartGlass, while not identical to what the Wii U game pad offers, could put Nintendo in a tough spot. Gibeau agreed.
"It does definitely put positioning pressure on Nintendo because you don't have to buy a new system. Most likely, you already have a smartphone and you already have a 360, so it does a really good job of positioning for the platform and we're very excited about it," he said.
Both Wii U and SmartGlass are set to reach the public later this year. We'll be watching closely.