At this year’s E3, it was hard to walk into a presentation of an upcoming AAA title and not hear the phrase “second screen.” Along with games incorporating extended social features to their gameplay, the ‘second screen’ mechanic looks like something that is set to craft a big presence in the next generation of gaming.
One of the biggest players in terms of incorporating dual screen gameplay was EA, announcing that both Need for Speed: Rivals and Battlefield 4 would come with downloadable applications for handheld devices which allow players to interact with their games in a whole new way.
For Battlefield 4, EA and DICE re-introduced the fan-favorite Commander Mode in a whole new way. The mode gives players with tablets, laptops and dual monitors a top down view of an in progress online game, allowing them to give orders and drop missiles onto the enemy team below from a handheld or secondary device. On top of that, the game will have extensive social media aspects, managed through the game’s ‘Battlelog‘ feature, encouraging competition between friends and other players.
To understand EA’s support and implementation of these mechanics, Polygon spoke with EA Games Label boss Patrick SÃ¶derlund, who says that social media and smart devices are changing our lives and creating a massive influx in the amount of information we consume, and gamers are a part of that cultural shift.
“The social revolution we’ve seen because of technology and services, like Facebook and Twitter and those kind of things, has changed how games are played. And will continue to have an impact on how we will design games from the get go.”
If EA’s recent announcements are anything to go by, social media aspects and second screens are a big part of their future plans. Soderlund confirmed that during the early processes of Star Wars: Battlefront, in which they promised to innovate, they are trying to get DICE to consider these aspects as central to the game’s design.
“Today, this is one of the first things our game guys design when they start looking at Star Wars: Battlefront, which is going through design right now. One of the first things we talked about is these things, that tells you it’s in the minds of the people who make the games.”
There is potential for second screen and social integration into any EA game as long as it is considerate and serves a purpose, which is something Soderlund acknowledges. He said that EA’s first few attempts at second screen integration and social features were “stupid,” but that they had learned their lessons and were now trying to achieve better player/game interaction through these feature, making sure that they are worthwhile to gameplay experiences. Citing Battlefield 4 as a worthwhile example, Soderlund went on to warn:
“As people play the games we need to do a better job of providing meaningful extensions, not gimmicks. We have to make sure it actually improves the game and makes it better. Otherwise it’s useless, otherwise it becomes a gimmick, something we do because we can, which makes no sense.”
Ubisoft also is a big proponent of second screen support, builting pre-release apps for Splinter Cell Blacklist and Watch Dogs, and supporting second screen features or loadout options for Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Far Cry 3. For their upcoming next-gen titles Watch Dogs, The Crew and Tom Clancy’s The Division, second screen features will evolve to become staple parts of actual gameplay.
Are you excited to extend gameplay features across a second screen and what would be the best use of it in your mind? Let us know in the comments!