At their Spring Forward event, Apple revealed their latest product, the Apple Watch. Slated for release on the 24th April this year, Apple promise the Watch will be their ‘most personal device yet’. Connected to your iPhone, it will give you a ‘gentle tap’ whenever you have a new notification. Plus, it can function as a more advanced fitness tracker, helping the user ‘sit less, move more and get more exercise’.
At the announcement, eagle eyed viewers noticed that no games were shown for the Apple Watch. There are some in development, most notably Letterpad from NimbleBit, the people behind Tiny Tower, and existing game Trivia Crack, which will receive an Apple Watch version. Some commentators, though, have wondered whether games will even really work on such a device.
The Apple Watch isn’t the only smartwatch on the market, however. What’s available on other watches, such as the Pebble? So far, there are only a few developers taking advantage of the medium. There’s Hatchi, a Tamagotchi style virtual pet, and basic versions of perennial favourites such as Tetris. Not really an awfully large selection to choose from. Are the commentators right?
So how would games even work on an Apple Watch? It has been pointed out that developers could take advantage of the watch’s unique features, such as the heart rate monitor. Pocket Gamer asks: ‘How about a survival horror game that delivers more scares when your heart rate goes up? Or an endless runner where your character slows down when it seems you’re getting tired or slacking?’
Other suggestions, as put forward by the Guardian, include using a 3DS style Street Pass system to connect with other Apple Watch users, or as a second screen for existing games or apps. They also point out that the watch will require developers to create more minimalistic games. As currently games like Tetris are popular for smartwatches, this could mean the next big development in areas such as puzzle gaming.
The benefit of gaming on an Apple Watch is that the player doesn’t even have to take their phone out of their pocket to play, meaning it’s easier to check in on games on the move. To take full advantage of this, developers will have to create games that allow for this ‘micro gaming’ to happen. Done right though, it could be a lot of fun.
Of course, there are some potential pitfalls. Will the people who buy the Apple Watch even want to game on it? At the moment, Apple is aiming their marketing towards people who want it for other reasons, especially for fitness (and with so many smart fitness gadgets on the market, who can blame them?). Even if they did want games, will they want the games available? Pocket Gamer had some optimistic ideas, but virtual pets and retro games may not be to everyone’s tastes.
Either way, smartwatches a very much in their infancy, so we’ll have to wait and see how gaming pans out on them.