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February 22, 2014

4 Second Screen Apps Expanding the Video Game World

by John_A

Second screen usage occurs when you use a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, alongside another activity. Nielsen reports that 43 percent of tablet owners and 46 percent of smartphone owners put their devices to work as second screen providers. Video game companies are taking the leap into second screen companion applications for their games, from Battlefield 4′s Battlescreen to Xbox One’s Smartglass experience.

Battlefield 4

Battlefield’s first person shooter experience, available on, has long set itself apart from other franchises through the use of a Battlefield map for the commander’s use. You call in artillery strikes, help coordinate squads, and drop supplies to soldiers. In older versions of the game, you switched to a separate screen on your television or computer monitor to access this mode. With Battlefield 4‘s Battlescreen app, you use an app on your tablet or smartphone to give you access to commander mode, as well as squad and loadout management. This prevents you from getting killed because you’re stuck in the commander screen, and you don’t see what’s going on in your general proximity.

Xbox One Smartglass

Xbox One has split its focus between performing as a video game console and setting itself up as a media powerhouse in your living room. One step Microsoft took in this direction is the Smartglass companion app. This app gives you an additional way to control the Xbox One dashboard, look up information on the game you’re playing or the shows you watch, and provides additional content from the developer for games that provide second screen support.

Playstation 4 Companion App

The Playstation 4 app isn’t as media focused as the Xbox One, but one feature that is particularly useful is the ability to purchase and start game downloads directly from the app. It starts the download on your PS4, as well as downloading any needed updates, so you aren’t waiting an hour for a download when you get home to try a new game. It also provides you with an easier interface for instant messaging with your PS4 friends, as you aren’t limited by the on-screen keyboard or voice chat through your console.

Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag shipped with a companion app that exists to supplement the main experience and contribute to immersion. Many handy resources such as the world map were shifted to the companion app, so you don’t have to leave the main screen to check your location. In addition, you have access to the lore and story database to get more involved with the game even when you’re not playing. Finally, this app offers fleet management so you send your ships off for trades and treasure while you’re away from the console.

Dead Rising 3

Dead Rising 3 has a Smartglass compatible app that is actually integrated into the game world itself. Since your character uses a phone, you essentially use the phone that they are toting around ingame. NPCs give you missions by calling you up, and you also have maps and hints to help out.

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