Playstation 4 and Xbox One’s App Battle

Coinciding with the release of two hotly-anticipated next generation consoles, Sony’s Playstation 4 (already available in the U.S and launching here on Friday) and Microsoft’s Xbox One, debuting today across the globe, both companies have created companion mobile phone apps with the aim of further enhancing game play and gaming experience.

Respectively entitled the Playstation 4 App and more inventively, the Xbox One Smartglass, it appears that both Sony and Microsoft have realised the value of having an individual app to compliment their main systems; the success of Facebook, Twitter and Ebay as Smartphone shortcuts are a huge testament to this. But it certainly seems for the most part that both of these apps supplement, rather than enhance or add any real substance to, the games that each user plays.

The PS4 app allows users to ‘shop on the go’ and download games from a remote location that will be sent straight to their main console system and pioneers a type of instant messaging that optimises the speed of communication by eschewing conversations controlled by the console remote in favour of IMing friends through an easier ‘texting’ method. There’s also a system in which players can schedule, for lack of a better phrase, ‘game dates’ with friends, sending a notification including the time and date to their friend’s console or app.

The fundamental features of the Smartglass are remarkably similar, but probably less well executed than the PS4’s, with Microsoft’s ‘shop on the go’ only getting items ready-for-download rather than actually downloading them and a method of instant messaging akin to the PS4, as well as the ability to browse the accounts and trophies of your friends from the comfort of their Smartphone.

The only really groundbreaking element of these two apps is that, with a handful of titles, each companion can be used to assist game play. Preventing gamers from rubbishing Microsoft’s claim that the Smartglass is a ‘second screen to elevate gaming experience’, certain aspects of games such as Ryse: Son of Rome and Dead Rising 3 only become apparent if played with both console and app. In these examples, the Smartglass presents itself as a sort of Easter Egg for players savvy enough to deploy it in conjunction with the main game. Yet, for the most part, the companion guides, commentaries and behind-the-scenes footage that populate the app are more curious and interesting than useful, and all a bit superfluous to gaming experience.

The PS4’s incarnation of the ‘second screen to elevate gaming experience’ is perhaps a little more clear-cut with big-name games such as Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty making full use of this exciting new feature to augment their gaming content. To be utilised in conjunction with a player’s tablet, AC’s additional app content consists of picturesque, detailed maps that are replicated on the big screen whilst COD grants the ability for a secondary player to compliment the tactical warfare of the main action. Sony, unlike Microsoft, has also allowed developers to use this ‘second screen’ technology for free, so expect an influx of new innovations and features as the PS4 becomes an established console.

PS4’s ‘The Playroom’, is a slice of augmented reality geared up to allow players to draw inanimate objects on their tablets or phones and fling them into a world of AR robots on their TV screens. Sound confusing? See it in action on Jimmy Fallon. Devoid of any practical application whatsoever, it’s aim is purely to entertain and flex Sony’s considerable technological muscle. But that’s what console games are all about, to entertain and offer a way of escaping from reality into a virtual world.

Two competing apps released by two gaming heavyweights to support the launch of the latest addition to both of their console catalogues. Which is better? The PS4 may just edge it owing to its more fleshed-out use of the ‘second screen’ to enhance game play but there really isn’t much to choose between them. Equally effective, and arguably both rather elementary and superfluous. But, watch this space.

The Return of the Kings of War Games and Hip-Hop

With less than three months away from its release, “Call of Duty: Ghosts” dropped a trailer last week and the buzz continued to grow around one of this year’s biggest game event.

Two special collector’s editions are available for loyal fans to celebrate its 10th instalment. They include a range of extra digital content and a full HD and head-mountable tactical camera, aside from many other new features being introduced to the game. So it is no surprise that the special editions are substantially more expensive than those from previous releases (£179.99 vs £119.99).

It will be the first game to be available on PS4 and Xbox One, two other upcoming excitements in the industry, although developer Infinity Ward claims it is the PC that will provide players with the best visual and graphic experience.

It will also be the first time the game features a female character in multiplayer. The gesture is more than a technical improvement to the game. It is also a nod to their female players who make up “a huge portion of our fans”, according to Mark Rubin, executive producer at Infinity Ward.

The game trailer also built further hype around the controversial rapper Eminem, by premiering “Survival” from his eighth studio album. Yet to confirm its title and release date, it is already MTV’s most anticipated albums of 2013.

The Grammy-winning Detroit rapper has been on the down-low since 2010’s release “Recovery” which achieved critical and commercial success. The most of what we have seen of him are a few guest appearances on other artists’ albums, including fellow rapper 50 Cent and pop rebel Pink. So you can imagine the eagerness of fans for “Survival” since announcing he has started working on new material over a year ago.

Career comeback of the king of hip-hop and new launch of the best-selling game series…sounds like a combo for publicity win-win to me!