Why the future of casual gaming is on your Television

uWand is exhibiting at Casual Connect in Seattle on 19-21 July. We’ll be there to talk with the gaming industry about how they can create games that work for the millions of new smart TVs that are being released as part of the growing convergence of television and the internet.

We see two major industry revenue streams evolving for smart TVs, these are Video-on-Demand and Gaming. In June this year the number of smart TVs in use exceeded the number of game consoles.  Smart TVs will increase the opportunities to create new games and to expand the reach of existing games. While there is good value per sale in a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops, the sheer volumes of a more casual game like Tetris or Moshi Monsters can be overwhelming.

Nintendo and Apple have already begun to democratise video gaming by making game devices and game controls attractive to a broader demographic. The industry has not gone far enough yet to reach the demographics that were not being catered to. A friend said to me recently, “I’m not a gamer, but I’ve downloaded every edition of Angry Birds and the new updates as well.” The catch phrase of these new consumers seems to be “I’m not a gamer, but I still play games.” This new demographic will need games, interfaces and control devices that fit their “non-gamer” self-image.

The growth in internet connected televisions will significantly increase the availability of games to people who are not playing games already. This new TV based data connection also opens up new possibilities for online social connections. Social games like Farmville will benefit enormously from the adoption of Smart TVs because more devices mean more players and more possible social connections.

The user experience for gaming on Smart TVs needs to be flexible enough to accommodate “lean back” activities and “lean forward” activities. This requires a flexible control device such as the uWand. For casual gaming to reach a broader demographic the control devices need to be familiar to the consumer through everyday use.
At Casual Connect we’ll be talking with the games industry about the ecosystem of operators and manufacturers that are becoming interested in using uWand to deliver a ‘Remote Touch’ experience. Our model is to license the uWand technology to multiple vendors so that consumers have a broad choice of devices incorporating the technology. Ideally the new Smart TV comes bundled with a hybrid controller that is suited for all three important use cases of the Smart TV: the linear TV usages, the web and widget navigation and motion/pointing games. This means that users will not have to purchase an additional control device to play games on their Smart TV. This is important, given the profile of the casual gamer. If the threshold is too high, both in cost and effort, to buy an additional accessory, this gamer might not even start playing this game.

The future of gaming on Smart TVs is that consumers will play more and more advanced games based on point & click and motion control enabled by a controller like the uWand. This means game developers can make use of existing casual games and social games by growing them into new and more interactive experiences. There will always be a core demand for first person shooters, but the future of gaming may look more like Angry Birds and less like Duke Nukem Forever.

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About Navin Natoewal, General Manager Philips uWand

Navin Natoewal is General Manager of the Philips uWand team. uWand is a direct pointing and gesture control technology for remote controls. uWand offers fluent 3D gesture control and direct pointing capabilities with the same intuitiveness as a multi-touch screen. uWand, a result of 80 man-years of research and development, can be implemented in remote controls and interact with multiple electronic devices such as PCs, TVs, set-top boxes, DVD players and game consoles. Users control the devices simply by pointing in the appropriate direction or making specific movements in all three dimensions. For more information please visit http://www.uwand.com
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