Kotaku has a really sweet rumor they’ve been told from a reliable source. Only problem is that they don’t know if it will be announced tomorrow or sometime shortly thereafter, but it WILL happen. What makes this so interesting is because after today’s podcast Ahmed, Marc-Andre, Steven and I were talking about Microsoft releasing a tablet. I said that didn’t sound particularly interesting because MS is a software company and virtually all of their dedicated hardware has failed. It was my thought that if Microsoft were to do anything with tablets it would be an extension of their Metro Windows 8 devices. Xbox Live is already built directly into Windows 8 so why not just expand what’s already there? Kotaku seems to have heard something along those lines, except even more all inclusive.
The rumor says that Microsoft will release an app for iOS, Android and Windows phones which transforms whatever device you happen to own into a “companion” device for the game you’re playing. Let’s say you’re playing Halo 4, well you could boot up the app on your iPhone or iPad and see a mini-map, or some other in-game information.
The magic here is in the companion software itself. Developers need only code the in-game information that’s to be transferred to the device, and Microsoft’s software will ensure compatibility with all the devices. Don’t forget how many different versions of operating systems and devices are actually out there. The software acts as a bridge for the information the developer wants to share.
This should sound similar as Sony and Nintendo have both featured cross compatibility with a wide variety of their own devices over the years. Nintendo had GameCube and GBA connectivity, Sony has cross compatibility with PS3 and Vita, etc. Today Nintendo showed their next-gen system, the Wii U, which features an extremely robust online infrastructure which will eventually be able to communicate with virtually any and every device which has a mobile browser. The biggest difference between Companion and all of these is that players already own tablets and smartphones, meaning they wouldn’t need to purchase anything else, except maybe the app itself. Xbox Live Gold members would automatically unlock the full suite of goodies, while Silver members would only be able to access limited features.
I find it funny that this rumor breaks only minutes after we had starting talking about the very same thing. I think it’s clear by now that the future of all three consoles is looking very interesting. We’re all going to be connected to each other in ways we never thought possible before. What say you about this wild rumor?