Could The Apple iWatch Spark The Rise Of Wearable Games?

Yes. Article done.

Well… that was the simple answer. But, before I start, I should mention that whilst the Oculus Rift is technically a piece of wearable gaming tech, I don’t really put the iWatch, and that sort of wearable tech, in the same ball park as VR.

Personally, I’m not convinced by the Apple iWatch. It’s partly because I don’t like wearing watches, let alone one that will cost me around £500. But it’s also down to the fact that it feels a little gimmicky. Kind of like the rise and fall of Google Glass, I kind of feel like the world isn’t quite ready to adopt this sort of wearable tech for every day use. However, if there’s one company that can convince the masses to spend a load of cash on a glorified watch, it’s Apple. Also, I guess that wearable tech that sits on your wrist is less of a jump than hi-tech glasses. Putting something that you can hold in your hand, on your wrist, is kind of a natural progression I guess.

However, when it comes to gaming, the Apple iWatch’s future is slightly less obvious. Apple are allowing third party developers to create apps for the iWatch, so it’s pretty safe to assume that a few of those apps will be games. So far, a few developers have confirmed that their games will be supported by the iWatch. Popular games, like Rules! and Hatchi, are set for release on the new piece of tech, and the guys behind Zombie Run have said that they’re looking in to how their game could play on the iWatch. Rules! and Hatchi are very simple games to transfer across, because they’re the sort of games that rely on simple animations and limited user interaction. Managerial simulation games like Title Challenge, and tile based games, like Icomania, are perfectly suited for the iWatch because of their simple controls and because they require less processing power. I would imagine that these are the sorts of games that will excel on the tech, and the types of games we’ll see being developed for the ‘wearable’ market.

Yet these games are already popular on the iPhone, and on other mobile devices. And, other than meaning that you don’t need to pull your phone out of your pocket to play them, the iWatch doesn’t really add anything to the games. If anything, other than Hatchi perhaps (it’s pretty much a Tamagotchi app for your phone), the iWatch will be taking away from these games, because of its smaller screen. So I guess the real question is, how will the iWatch impact the future of gaming? Will we see the rise of simple to play games for the wearable market? These sorts of games are already popular on mobile devices, so the transition wouldn’t be tough. Or will developers just simplify some of their titles to fit with the iWatch, as opposed to develop new content and utilise the iWatch’s USPs? I guess much of this depends on its success, and how affordable it becomes over the next few years.

For me, I could see the iWatch bringing a rise in ‘companion apps’ for other games. It could be quite feasible for games like Clash of Clans to have a small companion app to go on the iWatch. This app could contain mini-games to help you gather recourses, for example. Or, alternatively, they could use the iWatch to create a mini command centre on your wrist, to launch attacks on other players, or co-ordinate a defence against an attack. Companion apps wouldn’t have to be limited to mobile games, of course. Rockstar made the iFruit app, which was met with both praise and criticism. These sorts of companion apps can bring in mini-games for people to play which could contribute towards in-game rewards, or gaining additional experience points – there are a lot of possibilities for this sort of tech.

I guess that the Apple iWatch’s real USP is the fact that it’s compact and easily accessible. But, at the moment, wearable tech is really in its infancy, so developers are going to want to test the water to see how their games will be received by the audience. The tech will give developers the opportunity to test different types of games on the iWatch, but I’m sure that they’ll first be concentrating on how best to scale down their current projects for the new device, rather than thinking about new and exciting projects that utilise the tech.

So what does the future hold for the wearable gaming market? At the moment, I’d imagine very little… or at least very little of note. I can’t see the iWatch being the harbinger of some sort of revolution in gaming. Really, I think that it will bring the transition of a certain type of game from one device to the other – your Candy Crushes, Title Challenges and possibly even Farmvilles. But maybe you see a bigger future for gaming on the Apple iWatch, and other wearable tech devices? Let me know in the comments below!