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Today, Microsoft revealed SmartGlass, a technology that can turn almost any touchscreen device into an extension of the Xbox 360. For entertainment, this means being able to start watching a television show or movie on the go and continue on your TV - and for games, it means using the second screen as a touch-based interface for creating your own plays in Madden or being given access to additional information in Halo.
It's likely the biggest thing Microsoft revealed at the show, and might be one of the more interesting revelations out of E3, but while some are pointing at it as a "Wii U" killer, it might actually be more beneficial to Nintendo than it could ever be to Microsoft.
Above: Check out Microsoft's full unveiling of SmartGlass
Besides the obvious issues with HD graphics and online gameplay, the Wii's controller was one of the roadblocks in the way of bringing third-party games to the system. Developers don't often feel like creating console-specific versions of their games, and since third-party games often sold poorly when compared to AAA Nintendo releases, many developers simply didn't bother at all. And honestly, we couldn't blame 'em.
While the Wii U will remove the graphical hindrance, the inclusion of a touchscreen on the controller has the possibility to create that hurdle all over again. Developers of AAA games would need to make use of it in some way, just to make it work on the Wii U. With Microsoft's unveiling of SmartGlass, however, that all changes.
Now, if EA were to spend millions of dollars creating an interesting user-interface for the Wii U version of Dead Space 3, that cost wouldn't be for the Nintendo release alone. A modified version of the interface could be made for SmartGlass as well, further fleshing out the Xbox 360 Dead Space 3 while creating a version that takes full advantage of the Wii U GamePad. Instead of beating Nintendo at its own game, Microsoft may have helped it out tremendously.
This works in Microsoft's favor as well, obviously, as it assures that Xbox 360 copies will continue to have the complete experience instead of lagging slightly behind the Wii U. It also helps extend the current generation's lifespan even more by allowing parity between the Wii U and the Xbox 360 - odds are we'll see the Vita being tagged to the PS3 in the same way, creating an interesting generational dynamic where all three systems have features that can optionally extend to a second screen.
We're hoping to find out more about SmartGlass, the Wii U, and the likely Vita/PS3 partnership as E3 continues.
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