AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

Video Games Beginning to Embrace the Second Screen

Posted by Ben Gregson on August 6, 2014

Nearly everyone who uses Twitter has, either in-the-moment or afterwards, interacted with the second-screen experience for a television broadcast. Be it the live tweeting of a political event, discussions about twists in a popular drama or exclamations during a sporting event, people are expanding their experience with that content to another device and another form of media. In this case, they are moving to social media.

Some companies have begun to get ahead of the audience, providing hashtags for easy discussion. The 2014 World Cup is probably the best example, with each game and team having their own hashtags. The greatest effect these experiences have for the content creator is that it keeps the user engaged with your content, even after they are done experiencing it. It makes sense, then, that game developers also want to get a piece of that fan engagement.

The first wave of second-screen experiences were unexciting and useful for little more than tracking statistics in online matches. As time goes on and technologies become more and more similar, this is changing.

Video game players are now getting iOS apps that communicate with Playstation and Xbox game servers, and even some apps that allow mobile users to challenge console users in real-time. The best example of this may be from one of this year’s biggest titles, Watch_Dogs, a game that revolves around a vigilante with the ability to hack into nearly anything with a wireless connection. The mobile app allows an iPad user to control the police and attempt to capture the console player, who wins if he can evade the police long enough. Both players get very unique experiences, and the winner gets points that contribute to the player’s level in competitive multiplayer. It’s a dynamic experience for the console player, and it allows the mobile player to be a part of the Watch_Dogs world and make progress when they are not able to play the game.

The left screen shows the mobile app, while the right screen shows the Watch_Dogs console game, and they are competing against each other in real time.

The left screen shows the mobile app, while the right screen shows the Watch_Dogs console game, and they are competing against each other in real time.

Bungie has a different take on the second screen experience, but one that will keep users just as engaged. Bungie’s upcoming game Destiny is one of the most expensive games ever made, when you take development and marketing into account, and the publisher is going to want a long lifespan for the game so that it continues to make returns on that investment. The game is designed to be more or less endless, which helps, but the second-screen app is another solid attempt to make the experience more accessible, and in more places.

As a gamer, I want to be able to engage these worlds in meaningful ways when I’m at a relative’s, or stuck on a train. As developers, these companies should want me engaged for weeks and months. If I stay engaged, I won’t sell their game (which effectively prevents the publisher or developer from ever making money off of that copy of the game again) and I may spend more money down the line on additional content. Twitter is currently the home of second-screen experiences, but I would like to see a world where entertainment content can blur the lines between these multimedia experiences.

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