Activision expecting "a lot of creativity" around second screen in next-gen

Eric Hirshberg is excited about the possibilities that ubiquitous mobile devices bring to the console experience

For all the talk of next-gen enhancements coming with Xbox One and PS4, one aspect that may be overlooked is the impact that mobile may have on the new consoles. Rather than seeing mobile as a platform that will compete with consoles, Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg is getting more and more excited about how mobile will enhance consoles with a second screen experience.

Speaking to our sister site, [a]list daily, Hirshberg noted that the new consoles launching this holiday will enable developers to get even more creative with the second screen.

"We've built a lot of great capabilities in mobile, but the thing I'm most excited about is the ubiquity of second screen. Whether it's the smartphone in your pocket or a tablet, the ability to connect with the next-gen hardware will be in a much more seamless way. We can really have our games comes to life on a second screen in a much more robust way," he noted.

"We were a little ahead of this with Call of Duty Elite. We were the first ones to allow you to create the load-out of your character on your tablet or your smartphone and then push it into the console. On the current generation we had to do a lot of technological gymnastics in order to make that happen. The consoles just weren't designed with those devices in mind because those devices didn't exist when these consoles were designed. Now with next-gen, there's a much more robust connectivity with other devices. You'll see a lot of creativity and a lot of energy coming from developers with the next-gen in this area."

Hirshberg certainly isn't alone in his excitement for the second screen experience. Ubisoft actually has a whole studio leading its second screen efforts, and CEO Yves Guillemot told GamesIndustry International that he's "convinced it's the future."

You can read the full interview with Hirshberg at the [a]list daily.

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Latest comments (12)

Its strange, as Im sure many here have, I have a multi screen set up in my workspace and it works well for me as long as the screens are side by side and basically the same size. I can easily glance from one to another and my eyes and brain dont seem to mind.
But now if I add in other screens, smaller ones , usually tablets and smart phones to my workspace as I sometimes have to do, now my brain and eyes dont like multi screen experience so much.

Its seems that at least for me, my mind and eyes dont mind strafing left and right but they do mind having to suddenly look down, locate and then refocus on a smaller screen. Its annoying, it doesnt work well ( at least for me) and I try to avoid it as much as possible as it makes my space all disjointed and suddenly chaotic.

Thats why I say at least for me, multi screen doesnt work for me in a gaming sense if we are talking about two different sized screens in two different locations. It annoys me, my brain, and my eyes. The whole looking down to locate, focus, and comprehend part of the smaller screens just ads " latency " to the game. Im now frantically trying to locate, focus, comprehend, all while missing out on what happening on the large screen. Latency and chaos.

As much as we like to think the human brain can multi task, the simple fact is , it cant.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 15th August 2013 4:55pm

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Ralph Tricoche Studying MA, CUNY4 years ago
Rather than embrace the WiiU for it does,and create innovative new gaming experiences. We want to create "apps" to haphazardly connect to our already stressed, battery-draining smart devices to consoles?
That's really smart.
I hate when these "insiders" speak as if Nintendo doesn't exist. When we all know that Nintendo is not going anywhere, and to discredit what they brought and continue to bring to the gaming arena is bordering on lunacy.
They should stop waiting on others to do wonderful things and start developing for what is already here.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.4 years ago
We've had dual screen options since 2004 and I don't recall a single instance of Activision doing anything creative in that space. I really don't expect to see them start now.
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Show all comments (12)
Steve Goldman Journalist. 4 years ago
I havent seen any creativity from activision in 10 years.
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Actually, it IS really smart. Nintendo had an idea to add a second screen to the Wii U, and I'd hate to think how much they spend on R&D for it, but it's essentially a dumb terminal. The Wii U does all of the work. With a smartphone or tablet, you can have it do it's own processing for you.

By saying "you can connect a smart phone to use as a second screen" you save yourself a lot of work. Your main concern (implementation wise) then is developing the API and addressing latency. You don't have to spend time developing your own second screen, because thousands of them already exist, and have standards to conform to. What you have got though, is the ability to say "Our console has can do similar things to the Wii U controller". Which is a big thing in the minds of customers - nearly the same functionality, but a faster/more modern machine - even if what they actually get is an inferior second screen experience. And that's the main difference. Nintendo have a guarantee that their customers have a VDU controller, and developers have to support it. When you're using smartphones & tablets, you can't say the same. Players "may" be using a second screen, but equally may not, so the likelihood is that developers won't spend nearly as much time on them.
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Patrick Keller Head of Software Development, ProSiebenSat.1 Games GmbH4 years ago
Funny how "second screen" is still confused with multi monitors even today...
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
There has been a huge explosion in second screen usage when consuming content. Just look at the stats for where tablets are used. Whilst watching TV figures highly.
I have been using second screen whilst watching F1 on the TV for years. There is a wealth of online data that really enhances the viewing experience.
Second screen gaming allows a whole new explosion of creative possibilities. Most of which will be realised with tablets and smartphones.
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Ben Simpson CEO & Co-founder, Box Of Frogs Media4 years ago
Actually Bruce, what you are doing is surfing the net whilst watching TV, thats not second screen, its multi-monitor.

Nintendo are on the right track and clearly understand the concept of the second screen and what it should do, as in influence or provide direct information from the primary screen.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ben Simpson on 16th August 2013 1:04pm

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
@Ben Simpson

You are wrong. If I am consuming the same event (an F1 race) but getting different information from different screens then it is second screen.
If I was watching the F1 on the television whilst playing Angry Birds on my tablet it would be a different matter.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic keyboard basher, Avasopht Ltd4 years ago
@Bruce: I get what you're saying there, though I think the key difference is that Nintendo are going for total integration where the second screen interaction is developed in conjunction to be used with the main title whereas you are talking about what is clearly a more natural immersion with the domain that needn't be designed by the curators.

Both have their place and perhaps your example has more far reaching possibilities, though possibilities that may never be reached due to licensing complications I imagine will hold it back.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee4 years ago
Ralph and Christoper both make excellent points. Which is all the more interesting being opposing views.

Leaning more towards the pro Wii-U points in there however. Second screen is a standard, all processing power/latency is already accounted for, technical implementation is largely uniform. Addition: The Wii-U controller is actually a full controller too. The overall package is also cheaper than adding a tablet alongside your non-WiiU console.

Given that this Wii-U technology is already out there, I do find it a shame to see it wasted. We already know development is easy on the console, cross-platform dev (Wii-U as an additional platform) is relatively cheap according to publisher feedback - but it looks like studios are getting behind this dual screen potential on everything but Wii-U.

Opportunity lost. Wii-U is a like a big DS with so much more potential in there...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 16th August 2013 3:53pm

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Ben Simpson CEO & Co-founder, Box Of Frogs Media4 years ago
I disagree Bruce but happy to debate it, for a second screen to be considered just that it must get information from and interact with the primary screen and support that activity. This is the problem that TV land are struggling with and in fact, coming up with some innovative ideas around second screen but all of these are based on some form of interaction rather then simply firing up the internet and saying 'thats second screen, done'.

"Opportunity lost. Wii-U is a like a big DS with so much more potential in there..." @Adam, perfect :-)
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