E3 2012 is long over, and one term was sticking in everybody’s mind after the show: “asymmetrical gameplay.” What was it? Would it be successful? How would it be utilized?
Nintendo’s delved into the Wii U during their conference describing different, yet similar experiences, integrated into one game. Someone uses a Wii Remote, while somebody else uses a Gamepad. It’s similar to the 3 v 1 minigames of Mario Party, where a group of players share common abilities and objectives, while another uses different mechanics. The gameplay potential of asymmetric gameplay could extend to fun experiences, cooperatively or competitively. It was a truly innovative idea. Nintendo’s claim to fame for E3 could have been their fresh new game mechanics… if only Microsoft and Sony hadn’t introduced the same experiences as well.
With Smart Glass, Vita, and Gamepad controls set to battle later this year, many gamers are wondering who will be named the innovator, and who will lose money on their investments. The big three are set to clash in a fashion that hasn’t been seen since the beginning of this generation. All of the console manufacturers are introducing similar products within a short time period of each other.
When Microsoft showed off Xbox Smart Glass during their E3 conference, they promised to bring new gameplay mechanics to popular franchises, such as Halo. The system uses phone and tablet devices to create a touch-based game experience. With the growing base of Microsoft consoles, Smart Glass is a force to be reckoned with. EA has even stated that Smart Glass “is a killer initiative…. 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.” EA’s support of Nintendo’s new system was lacking during E3, and their enthusiasm towards Microsoft shows that a serious Wii U competitor is on the way, possibly before the Wii U launches.
On the other side of the big three, you have Sony. The company launched their new handheld, the Playstation Vita, earlier this year in regions across the globe. They promised to bring console experiences to portables, and allow transferable save files between the PS3 and the Vita. The tech is there. The system is a fantastic platform, and it has some great features. The cross-playing mechanic is handy and convenient for on-the-go gamers. But the Vita feature emphasized at E3 was the asymmetrical gameplay. The Vita can be used as a PS3 controller in certain titles, opening up new potential for console and handheld software for Sony. The demonstrations at E3 are only the tip of the iceberg for new ways to play Playstation games.
The company seems confident in their system. Sony believes that the Vita is superior to the Gamepad because the “Wii U tablet doesn’t have a processor in it, so it’s got to be fueled by that box sitting under your TV.” The statement is true, but does it really mean the Vita is superior? The handheld’s sales are lagging, and software was barren until recently. If the Vita can pick up steam, then the crossing gameplay can actually benefit the company. But Sony needs to prove their handhelds can succeed before they combine the two.
And then we have Nintendo. The big N’s Wii U sounds awesome, but it lacks the momentum that Microsoft already has with Xbox. The Gamepad needs to provide innovative new ways to play games at launch, otherwise the tool will be seen as a gimmick. Smart Glass could arrive in stores before the Wii U, snatching the market away. If Nintendo is going to gain the audience on asymmetrical gameplay, they have to bring the software as quickly as possible to impress the market .
What do you think? Are Microsoft and Sony threats to the Wii U? Are they even competitors? Will asymmetrical gameplay succeed in the public’s eye? Sound off in the comments below.