Epic: "We've yet to see the real value of the second screen"

Epic vice president Mark Rein on the mobile market and the impact on consoles

Whether it's for navigating menus, selecting plays in a sports title, or providing additional in-game information (maps, etc.), second screen usage via tablets and smartphones has become much more prevalent among console titles today. While some are "convinced" that second screen gaming is "the future," others aren't so sure. In a recent interview with the [a]list daily, Epic Games vice president Mark Rein shared his thoughts.

"I think we've yet to see the real value of the second screen idea, if you're talking about SmartGlass and companion apps and things like that. But that doesn't mean that it won't be big one day. I don't really know what it is yet," Rein commented.

"Where I really use SmartGlass is for choosing things from the menu and navigating the store instead of using the controller. It's great for watching a movie and then continuing it on my tablet when I walk away. There are lots of great uses and applications," he continued. "Where it fits into gaming, I don't know. I'm not sold on picking up my tablet to choose my play and then putting it back down and picking up my controller. It's kind of a wonky way to choose a play, so I don't know if that's how it's going to go or not."

"Developers should try everything and have lots of fun with it, and sooner or later there will be a killer app for that sort of thing, too."

Rein also said that people need to stop thinking of tablets and mobile as being in competition with consoles, stating that he doesn't believe "the whole 'one defeats the other' really is a thing."

"They're never going to be a one-to-one console to tablet because one you plug into a wall, one you carry around with you. That doesn't mean that they won't have the same amount of power and you won't be able to plug your tablet into the wall and add a controller and play it like a console. I think that's inevitable. I think Apple's now embraced having a controller," he said.

Read more from Mark Rein at our sister site the [a]list daily.

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Latest comments (14)

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
It's only useful when it doesn't compromise traditional controls, as with the DS family and Wii U.
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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange8 years ago
This tacked on experience on systems like the XBOX One and PS4 won't be as intuitive if you have to switch between your controller and a tablet, or if you have to go buy a Vita that doesn't even have trigger buttons.
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Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop8 years ago
The "choosing a play" example is useful for local multiplayer where players have hidden knowledge advantages over each other.
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Show all comments (14)
Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments8 years ago
@Andreas whilst the tech is potentially similar, that's more asymmetrical multiplayer than second screen. Still lots of potential though.

@Andy I assume the vita uses the rear touch pad as triggers? It must have something for remote play to work.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Neil Young on 3rd December 2013 10:35am

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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Neil The Vita actually uses L1 and R1 as the L2 and R2 triggers on the PS4. It then moves L1 and R1 from the PS4 to the back of the touchpad, and L3 and R3 to the front tochscreen. It's quite awkward and uncomfortable for games in which you have to make any regular use of those buttons. It also has massive lag compared to the Wii U solution (and video quality loss when using it for off-TV play).
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Marcel Vlasblom Senior Consultant, Capgemini8 years ago
I wasn't convinced at first too, sure there are differences in the controls .. shooters will have a disadvantage... but overall, considering all types of game-play i.e. adventure, platform, racing, etc. the Vita copes quite well as a remote play console ...

its an option, not a necessity ...

and by the way after a good number of hours ... no lag here ...
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
It's only useful when it doesn't compromise traditional controls, as with the DS family and Wii U.
I agree. It seems to make so much more sense when its part of the system.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
Sorry, but I find plenty of value in having a touch screen. Wether the developer lacks the creativity or interest to do something with it, it is there problem.

For all the slack Nintendo gets I think they did well in going for a touch screen interface within a standard control pad scheme. As long as the second screen doesnt interfere with standard button layouts Im cool with it. More frequently used functions like jumping, attacking and stuff can be mapped to the fisical buttons. But less used functions or tactical oriented functions can be mapped out to a virtual customizable interface that only the touch screen can bring.

Also I the second screen offers ONE thing that I totally look foward to and its customizable controls. You can only put so many buttons on a game pad. But the second screen can add developers the ability to add more buttons and functions to games.

Examples of how to use a second screen in my opinion: You can make a fighting game that has a wider variety of control options or an RPG in which the screen offers multiple ways to make tactical decisions, such as give commands to individual party members, formation instructions to each individual character or select a character icon and draw over the world math and draw a path for the character to follow all while telling them to do it in stealth mode or run. Another example can be switching weapons in a first person shooter and switching modes from stealth, melee or long range combat. And you can map these to virtual buttons and the shape and number of buttons can be customized by the developer.

I imagine these control schemes, simply because as a player, Ive encountered situations in which I had certain ways of doing things. And now with a touch screen interface anything is possible.

I never really was a fan of motion control or voice recognition. Im simply not going towave my body or shout in front of the screen for long hours of play. And I find those control schemes, work with a very limited amount of games, and often come off to me as gimmicky, when a more traditional control scheme can do the job just fine. This why Kinect doesnt interest me in the slightest.

And the problem I have with Kinect is how do you displace/move the character on screen? Sure you can make any action which requires you to stay in one place, but what about a soccer game or basketball game, or even a fighting game, which requires you to move around and displace yourself? What the game ends up being is an "ON-rails" expirience. I can see other benefits of motion controls, such as navigating a system menu or selecting stuff. Or probably but ultimatly awkwardly issuing commands with differant body movements. Then again.... this is were the touch screen comes in.

So 2014 will be great for all 3 console platform holders. Im just hoping the WiiU picks up I like Nintendo's offering and I see so much potential and here is why. But I see one major hurdle and its that 3rd party developers are not going to find value developing for the sytem or porting multi platform games for a system that wont sell many units. And porting a game to WiiU is difficult because its system specs are much lower than the other two.So you have to develope a game almost from the ground up for it. However Nintendos games are consitantly reviewed with scores of 8 and above out of 10 . And I like their games. I also hope more companies see the value of the second screen. And I find Nintendo's offering better than microsofts and SONY. It has two advantages. One its on a traditional game pad, it augaments and does not take away from the control scheme. Two its a full color touch screen display, easier to make a custom control interface and add more funcions, and three... its plug and play, no apps to download or connectivity issues, its right there and has integrated remote play for off TV playing expiriences. Its also integrated with the system out of the box, no extra money to spend on another device. You never really have to interrupt your gampley expirience. Cause sometimes Im home and I play games and I cringe as to why a developer didnt take advantage of it.

However Nintendo's next move should be to Give the 3DS standard fisical buttons and have it behave as a WiiU controller and have all the same functions of the WiiU gamepad, all while still being a portable console. The can make a cheaper WiiU bundles with a pro-controller for just 250$ and a premium bundle with a 3DS for $400. Current 3DS owners, need just buy a cheap peripheral. I think Nintendo would be wise to integrate and merge portable and home console funcionality together.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 3rd December 2013 4:30pm

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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Marcel That's just not possible. The Vita to PS4 connection has been tested thoroughly in all forms (Wifi direct and home wifi) and it has significant latency. That doesn't mean everyone NOTICES that sort of latency (you admitted yourself you don't play shooters) but the button to action latency in Killzone is ~130 MS on PS4 with a standard controller and standard monitor lag, but ~240 MS on Vita. That's a massive difference, and twice the lag of the Wii U solution.

Edit: To be clear I'm not saying it isn't fun or useful. I've put ~10 hours into off-TV play on my Vita. But the video is compressed significantly, and the lag is there, whether you're aware of it or not. It's just not the seamless solution the Wii U is with it's almost loss-less video and even LESS latency than you get on a standard HDTV.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 3rd December 2013 9:20pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
For the moment, let's just agree that like it or else, the Wii U offers the BEST second screen gaming thanks to the lack of noticeable game-killing lag and games made for TV and Gamepad play. That the solution come up by others is to copy this feature and require the purchase of a separate device to run second screen experiences that aren't yet perfected is one more sign of Nintendo leading and others following in their footsteps.

Granted, the Wii U needs more games from first and third parties that cater to more types of players who still drop the "kiddie" stigma on the company (as if that's always a bad thing). But I guess that's Nintendo's cross to bear until they can whip out games people who wouldn't normally give them the time of day (other than to say the company's doomed for some reason or another they can never make clear) want to pick up and play...
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The only people who want second screen apps are the ones who hope they can sell them.
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 8 years ago
Real Racing on Apple TV is the best 2-screen game I can think of and I owned a DS for many years. It may work better some day.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
Regarding the VITA's remote play, its a nice little feature that although it may have its kinks its good enough that Id rather have it, than not have it, because its a feature that comes in handy when the living room TV is compromised. It may not best the huge living room TV expirience, but its a nice solution to a small problem people encounter sometimes when living with other people.
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Marcel Vlasblom Senior Consultant, Capgemini8 years ago
@Nicholas thanks for your reply, and please know I fully agree with you.

I see a lot of people communicate negative about the Vita, or magnify the disadvantages of it.
I think of it as a nice handheld, with the option of remote play.
Sure there are disadvantages ... but you don't buy a Vita to play with it on your PS4 constantly.
It's an addition to the normal experience of big screen TV play.
Sure there will be small amounts of lag and the little characters on the TV screen are unreadable on your Vita...
Maybe some expectations are too high?
And its also obvious that WiiU benefits from the Nvidia Shield, i don't argue about that.
The WiiU is more integrated as an "ecosystem", with its controller.

All i like to say about it really is that Vita has real potential as a handheld; and as a controller it will be very hard to compete with the DualShock4 (which is excellent). It's a nice feature remote play ... nothing more. The second screen integration on PS4 looks promising (playroom) on smartphone and Vita ... its all in the developers hands and lets hope creativity will lead to good game-play .... I sincerely hope it will will bring nice features and rock-solid game-play ...
its still so early in the life cycle ... let's give it room to grow ... and lets not shoot it down at the start ...

WiiU is a different story ... I think its just too "clunky" as a controller .... technically it works fine. Besides that, its useless as a handheld, which was a major mistake.(but that story has been written about more then enough)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Marcel Vlasblom on 5th December 2013 2:33pm

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