It’s been a month since the arrival of the Apple Watch. Years of waiting, anticipating, preparing to queue around the block to be the first to wrap it around your wrist. And now it’s here. Of course others have been here for a little longer like the Microsoft Band, but they’re finally here. And they’re likely to be game changers.
Quite literally actually; gaming has been a huge industry for mobile for the past eight years, and with wearable tech the next revolutionary step in technology, we’re likely to see plenty of games adapting their play to fit our tiny screens.
Of course that isn’t going to be Call of Duty: Heroes or GTA Vice City, as it’d be impossible to shrink those games, plus it would be highly inappropriate to be shooting down pedestrians on a device which is predominantly used for telling the time. But puzzle, strategy, and casino games? Well that’s a different story.
We’ve already seen a few land inside the first month with the likes of Letter Zap, Trivia Crack, and Rune Blade seeing degrees of success, whilst Rules! has probably had the biggest push, even making an appearance at the pre-launch event!
It’s been a staple on the iPhone for a while now. It won Best of 2014 in the App Store and Best Mobile Game at the German Video Game Awards this year. It’s adapted to the smartwatch perfectly however, cutting the grid from three-by-three to two-by-two and is an excellent example of games adapting.
This of course is only the beginning. When the smartphone first landed, it took over a year for games to truly become the global phenomenon they are today, with the likes of Angry Birds and Flappy Bird making millions upon millions of dollars.
It’s the simple games like that however which are going to make the transition more naturally. Of course Flappy Bird is long gone, and we doubt Nguyen Ha Dong will be developing anything to be downloaded onto the new devices.
But Angry Birds, most definitely. The Rovio team has tinkered with lots of industries, so it would be a huge surprise if they didn’t. Although perhaps most of their attention might be on the Hollywood movie currently in production starring Jason Sudeikis, Danny McBride, and Bill Hader.
It’s been proved it’s not impossible too. A hacker recently opened up the Motorola MOTO ACTV Android watch to run a whole heap of Android apps on the screen, and was surprised by the results.
Chris Wade, the man who rooted the Motorola watch, was surprised by how the apps performed on it despite it having only a 1.6 inch screen. And of course if a hacker can do it, then that leaves a lot to be promised from developers.
It’ll all be about how they adapt. Brands are very much used to adapting to various technologies. For example, look at the casino industry that went from the real tables to adapting for desktop. It earned millions upon millions of members with the likes of PokerStars becoming a global brand. In came the smartphone in 2007 and PokerStars eventually became one of the most popular poker apps, even expanding their offerings beyond poker and into the rest of the casino. It’s a brand which has flourished on mobile.
So we could be sure to expect a transition into wearable technology. Particularly with casino games almost perfectly suited – in fact, we think a roulette wheel spinning on a round faced watch would look rather cool.
What developers are doing currently is asking how we use a watch. Bossa Studios, a brand well known for its quirky and humorous apps such as Surgeon Simulator and Deep Dungeons of Doom, were one of the first brands to release a game on the Apple Watch with Spy_Watch.
Vince Farquharson, Chief Operations Officer at the studios said, “We asked ourselves how we use a watch.
“You take it out maybe every 20 minutes, and use it for maybe three seconds. So we have to design a game that you play every 20 minutes for three to four seconds. That doesn’t exist.”
Spy_Watch aimed to fill that void, with notifications from fictional colleagues checking in with you via notifications every 20 minutes. The user simply has to give orders to their colleagues on how to complete missions.
It’s certainly an interesting new direction they’re taking apps in, and one that if successful could encourage more apps to do the same.
For casino games and simple ones like Angry Birds, they take up only a few moments of our time – that’s why we love them in the first place. The five minutes on the bus, or even just waiting for your partner in the dressing room at a shopping mall. We really do play that much.
Will Luton, designer of Pixel Miner, a game designed for the Pebble watch which was one of the industries pioneers, agreed with this notion of ‘snack-sized’ media, saying, “Smart watches are high frequency, short session devices which have low precision controls. This means that interfaces have to be very simple, such as one touch or menu-based systems. If smartphone games are designed to be played whilst waiting for a coffee, smart watch games should be designed to be played in an elevator ride.”
So if you’ll excuse the pun, it seems highly likely to take gaming to another level once again.
It doesn’t stop there either. Yes, watches are primarily used to tell the time, but the Apple Watch and Android Wear have already proven a watch can now be for checking the weather, notifying you on messages, and recording fitness. But in a world where multi-screening and multi-platforming is growing hugely, could the smart watch not find a different use?
Could the smart watch not become a controller for our smartphones or tablets?
We’ve seen the smartphone and tablet collaborate. We’ve seen the PS Vita and PlayStation console do the same. So surely with the connectivity available by Android Wear and Android devices alongside the iPhone and Apple Watch, we could see the watch become a form of controller.
Which would be ideal. In a world where we don’t have to block the view of our gaming screen by tapping and swiping, we could simply swipe our watch to play.
It’s certainly going to be another exciting few years in the wonderful world of tech. An estimated 957,000 Apple Watches were sold in the US with the devices selling out in a matter of minutes on its pre-order date.
That’s added to Android Wear who had sold 720,000 watches by the end of 2014. So they’re becoming popular.
And the more apps and features that get added, the more sales will rise. It took the cynics a while to get used to the smartphone; it’ll be the same with the watch. But if it can offer us all what the smartphone offers, and games just keep a-coming, then how can we not fall for them?
The games are on their way, it’s just a matter of time…