Iwata: Xbox SmartGlass offers 'a small facet' of Wii U capabilities

Nintendo president claims Microsoft's alternative may suffer from lag problems

Microsoft's SmartGlass technology will only provide a limited dual-screen service in comparison to the Wii U, Nintendo company president Satoru Iwata has claimed.


In an investor meeting at E3, Iwata also suggested that the SmartGlass technology could suffer from lag issues due to its reliance on Wi-Fi.

But the detailed portion of his comments were on the the tablet form-factor - which SmartGlass utilises - and how it does not ideally fit with the console games experience.

"The question is, is what they [Microsoft] are offering truly capable of doing everything that we're offering? From what we have seen so far, it looks to us as if what they are able to offer really is only a small facet of what the Wii U is capable of," he began.

SmartGlass is Microsoft's bold new initiative to expand the Xbox service to smartphones and tablets by linking the devices together online. The result is a two-screen format similar to Nintendo's Wii U arrangement.

"We know that the core users who love playing video games like controllers that you hold with two hands. But what you don't have on smartphones and tablets are the buttons and the control sticks that they prefer to use," Iwata said.

"Now, if players could hold a controller with two hands and hold a tablet or a smartphone with another hand, there would be no issue. Unfortunately, since it is not possible for humans to do that, you can't play a game in a way you can play with the Wii U."

He also said that the SmartGlass initiative was "proof of concept" of Nintendo's vision for Wii U, by virtue of the fact it is being copied.

"Previously after we'd introduced motion control, it took the other companies about three years before they introduced their own style of motion control," Iwata said.

"This time, the fact is that we've seen something of this nature come out within a one-year time frame from when we first announced the Wii U. That suggests to me that they clearly see value in what we're trying to do."

In enumerating his detailed scepticism of SmartGalss, Iwata also suggested that Microsoft's dependence on Wi-Fi may result in lag issues.

"The other thing that's important to know is that with the Wii U GamePad we have paid particular attention to the latency issues to allow the Wii U to truly create seamless gaming experiences on the Wii U GamePad," he said.

"What that means is that when the user presses the button on the Wii U GamePad, the signal of the button processes a transmitter to the Wii U hardware, and the Wii U hardware draws graphics in reaction to the signal received from the Wii U GamePad and transmits those graphics back to the screen in the Wii U GamePad. If you have latency within that process, or lag within that process, it's no longer a quality game.

"So clearly and naturally the latency for a situation like that is going to be very different from a device that has specifically been designed to achieve that type of seamless interaction versus a device that simply has conventional technology layered for each device to be purchased for individual reasons.

"If you were just talking about streaming movies, there would be no issues because there would be no interactive development for that. The moment that you look at an interactive experience, people become very sensitive to the lag and the latency, so that's the reason why we thought it would be meaningful to create the Wii U GamePad. The advantage of the Wii U system and the Wii U GamePad bundled together is to ensure that everyone will have the same experiences.

"I believe that even if Microsoft is able to bring SmartGlass to their console or if, according to the Sony story, the company is able to connect two different consoles, the advantage that we see in the Wii U will not be taken away."