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E3: The Xbox SmartGlass: A Cynical, Unnecessary Piece of Tech


Umm.... Why?

Really, that's the question to ask here. Why did the Xbox 360 need this? Why is this a good idea? Why will anyone besides Microsoft work on this, when developers have had development kits for the Wii U for the better part of a year, and have created many games for the Wii U accordingly?

Why should we, as consumers, buy this?

The Xbox SmartGlass was announced on the first day of E3, with the first real press conference. Microsoft's. People were pumped and enthused for an incredible display of new software and innovative, new technology. And I was disappointed. I don't even OWN an Xbox 360, yet the lack of new ideas was disheartening. And most of all, the big reveal, the new peripheral, to follow the relative success of the Kinect, was an uninspired and, frankly, pathetic attempt to copy the hardware a competitor was showing off later during the expo.

So that was that. But not just from a hype standpoint, the SmartGlass is blatant copying at its finest, and worse yet, it most likely won't even be a GOOD copy. Let me back this up.

Several E3s ago now, the XBox Natal was announced, bringing the idea of controller free, motion oriented gaming back into the eye of the gaming public. And while attempting to revel in the motion controlled joygasm that the Wii had brought about, Microsoft was developing new and unusual technology, in order to rival the monolith know as Nintendo. THIS IS WHERE GOOD COMPETITION COMES FROM. When someone creates a product and then a competitor creates something similar, but does something the competitor can't or doesn't want to do, the competitors strive to best one another. This is good for them, and also great for consumers. This is why the iPhone is better, because the Android persists to raise the bar in different ways.

And this is also why the PlayStation Move was a flawed premise (though WonderBook may change that).

To date, over 90 million Wiis have been sold, and over 18 million Kinects have been sold, a rather impressive figure considering it was a peripheral. Yet, despite having more impressive hardware, the PlayStation Move has sold a bit over 8 million, and has the least amount of software. Why? Because COPYING HARDWARE, ESPECIALLY IN APPEARANCE, DOESN'T A SUCCESS MAKE. Even if you are piggy backing on the success or change in market that someone else has created, it is extremely rare to create something that looks the same, and generally does the same, that sells the same.

On top of this, the 360 doesn't need another peripheral through which to navigate menus, or an alternative control style. It has both of those already, with its Kinect peripheral. The 360 is an incredibly successful piece of hardware, that doesn't need to copy its competitors to, well, compete. It has a fanbase. That fanbase loves the 360, for its games, for its online, maybe even for its take on motion. What it has never embraced (generality, sorry) is the look, the shape, and the feel of Nintendo.

Finally, who will develop for this? The SmartGlass, by not including buttons, is little more than an iPad for the 360, and all the major software enhancements they indicated at E3 were small, rather insignificant additions, like being able to read Halo 4 stats without opening a menu.

It might not fail. I won't state that with only a first look. But the SmartGlass has started on the wrong foot, after the wrong foot was put through a thresher and bandaged with nails. Development will be filled with trepidation for this hardware, and it will probably be slow going forward.
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About Samson Jinksone of us since 6:00 PM on 11.02.2010

I've been playing games since I was four years old, starting with a few levels of Super Mario World at my preschool. I soon acquired an N64, and have since enjoyed the GameCube, Playstation 2, GBA, Wii, Nintendo DS, PS3, iPhone, and the 3DS. I also have aspirations toward entering the games industry, by entering the Digipen Institute of Technology.
Twittering on @1080bitgamer
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