Analyst firm Forrester predicts that smartwatch sales will double within the next 5 years, with the wearable market growing from a $4.8 billion industry to one that will be worth over $9 billion by the time 2022 rolls around. As technology has advanced over the years, devices have often become more compact and more convenient and that is certainly the case when it comes to smartwatches. To the naked eye, a smartwatch will look like any other run-of-the-mill timepiece but it’s only after delving deeper into the technology that you start to realize the potential that one carries around on their wrist. Whilst earlier models were limited to basic tasks such as calculation and translations, the most recent smartwatches are effectively wearable computers and are being used for more complex activities such as playing music and high-quality mobile gaming. With over 51% of U.S mobile phone users now gaming on their devices and with smartwatches more widely available than ever online over at sites such as Amazon, gaming developers have already begun their pursuit to penetrate the wearable technology market and are constantly releasing a number of casual games which are unique to smartwatches. However, the question still remains, is there a real future in smartwatch gaming?
When considering the future of smartwatch gaming, it is important to cast an eye over some of the more niche and interesting titles which are already available with regards to the wearable market and Spy_Watch certainly falls into this category. Spy_Watch, which was developed by UK indie game developer Bossa games for the highly popular Apple watch, is a live-action role-playing game in which users assume the role of a dead spy’s son and relay messages to agents on how to complete their missions. An important feature of the game is that it is extremely reactive to how often you play it. Users will get ‘pings’ and notifications every 20 minutes or so but if you’re not able to respond to requests straight away then the storyline will carry on without you. Games which are designed for smartwatches are unique in that they are specifically developed to be played sporadically as opposed to games on other mobile devices which are much more intricate and time consuming. Spy_Watch is a perfect example of a game which is purpose-built for the wearable platform and has been a big hit ever since its release back in 2015.
Classic video slot Thunderstruck II was released in 2010 by Microgaming for Flash and through download, before being made available in HTML5 in 2013. The game became popular thanks to its high-quality graphics – it requires users to embark on their own unique Asgardian adventure. Its 2016 release on the Hippodrome site was groundbreaking for the wearable gaming industry as it was the first playable slot game to be made available for more modern smartwatches such as Samsung’s Gear S3. The smartwatch version of the game manages to incorporate the rich animations of the original version. It’s important to point out that due to the fact that smartwatches are worn on a user’s wrist (well, where else would they go after all?), gaming on the go can be a bit trickier when compared to playing on your mobile phone and so short sharp bursts of gameplay work extremely well when it comes to wearable software. With that being said, slot games and smartwatches are essentially a match made in heaven due to the fact that they are very easy to play and gameplay can often be paused and picked back up whenever the user feels like it.
Lifeline 1&2 – No Graphics? No Problem!
Available for a number of Apple and Android Wear smartwatches, the Lifeline games are not too dissimilar to 20th Century Fox’s 2015 sci-fit hit The Martian – fortunately, in the first Lifeline game, you play the role of communicator as opposed to the someone who’s stranded on another planet (poor Matt Damon). Your job as a radio operator is to keep Taylor alive by making a number of difficult decisions which are literally life and death to the mysterious astronaut. Lifeline 2 has a similar premise but is twice as long as the original version and is based around a woman named Akira who is on a quest to avenge her parents. Lifeline is an extremely absorbing gaming experience and is especially impressive when you consider that it does so without the use of graphics. Text-based games are fairly few and far between on the modern smartwatches but Lifeline is a perfect example of how important a believable storyline is when it comes to immersive gaming.
The Smartwatch Industry Is Rapidly Evolving
When you consider that the higher end smartwatches that we see today have only been around since the start of the decade, the technology is still arguably in its infancy. It’s difficult to predict exactly what’s next for the future of wearable technology but with technology geeks already finding ways to play their favorite Playstation 1 games such as Doom on their smartwatch, the possibilities seem endless. With cutting-edge technology such as virtual and augmented reality finally starting to take shape within the gaming industry, who’s to say that in 20 years, we won’t be able to flick a switch on our smartwatch and be transported to another world à la Star Trek? Whilst this may be a distant dystopian dream, the growing popularity of smartwatches means that developers are likely to be given more freedom to maneuver and there are some intelligent people out there. Intelligent enough to transport matter? Probably not? Intelligent enough to make people consider purchasing a smartwatch to fulfill their gaming needs? Most definitely.