With the Apple Watch’s generic release date of, “early 2015” hovering on the horizon, it's only a matter of time before gamers begin to ask “What’s in it for us?” The obvious choice would be to place entire games directly on the face of the watch, but its limited form factor could prove to be a problem - to say the least. We've thought long and hard about the impending reality of wearable entertainment and decided to think outside of the box a bit. Here are just a few of the ideas of what developers might have waiting for us very soon.
With the invention of location-based gaming becoming the rage, thanks in no small part to titles like Google’s Ingress, it would only make sense for this genre to jump off your phone and onto your wrist. Imagine a world where if you came near a portal, the in-watch vibration clued the user in to portals near their geographic location. This could even be displayed on the face of the watch itself. Players would then be able to fire up their phone and participate in the game as usual. Not only would this be totally manageable for developers to implement, but also considering that the Apple Watch isn’t capable of operating without piggybacking on an existing iOS device’s data connection, the notifications could simply be pushed from the existing app to the watch itself.
In a more fantasy-based sense, imagine if they applied the vibration built into the device to a title like the ARG-ish Ghostbusters Paranormal Blast. The watch could vibrate with higher frequency, as players get closer to facing the same direction as ghosts. Spinning quickly to face a poltergeist could become a more manageable and precise task to execute if the player could follow the signals from their wrist. Taking that idea one step further, what if every time a player fired off the proton pack the vibrations on the wrist went crazy? Sure this could potentially lead to batteries being burned out rather swiftly, but that's a small price one has to pay for increased immersion.
The heads up display (or HUD for short) is nothing new to first-person shooter fans. The concept of having ammo counts, on-screen radar, or even inventory management disrupting their view has become something that most have come to expect. But what if developers offloaded these space-hogging elements to the face of the Apple Watch? Most of the time watches are going to be close to the hand as it is, and facing the player, so it would only make sense to shift the information to the next best location. Heck, if developers were feeling extra experimental they could even assign weapon switching or inventory selection to the watch face and/or dial. Once again, this is a concept that could be totally optional for the player, but if they also tied in the force-feedback functionality to signify when the ammo clip was nearly empty, it could be a match made in gun-toting heaven.
Just because the Apple Watch has a touch screen face doesn’t mean that developers should feel the need to squeeze entire games onto its screen. Imagine if the touch screen could instead be used as a controller in more passive titles, while the iOS device’s screen is used to display the outcome of said input. Picture some sort of sport title where the player is the manager of a team. The watch’s face could be used to adjust team strategy on the fly, make substitutions, or in the case of a sport like American Football, actually choose plays for the team to run. Once these decisions have been made, the player can just kick back and relax while watching their plans play out to perfection. This is another scenario where the force-feedback could also come into play. A vibration for each second, as the play clock ticked down, could certainly prove to be an extremely helpful tool.
What is even more exciting is that this is just a brief sampling of random ideas, conceived by a non-game-developing writer. Just think of what kinds of uses actual professional developers could dream up. Truly, the potential of the Apple Watch will only be limited by the creativity of those who design for it, and they'll be able to get a heads start beginning next month. We can’t wait to see what is in store for us next year.