Xbox SmartGlass wasn’t universally embraced by gamers when it was announced, but most people who saw it understood its potential. In particular, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau was incredibly bullish on the new technology.
“We love SmartGlass. I think it’s a killer initiative. I really like it a lot,” he said. “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.”
“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.”
Madden was one of the few game applications shown with SmartGlass, and it’s not surprising that EA Sports head Andrew Wilson was also optimistic about it. “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.”
“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,” Wilson added. “And once we have that SmartGlass feature integrated with Xbox 360 I think we can deliver even cooler stuff.”
While not identical to the Wii U, SmartGlass does seem like a strategic counter to the Nintendo tablet controller. “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,” said Gibeau.