Developing A Gaming App For Apple Watch? Read this

Apple Watch and Gaming Apps

The lunch hours are on and my colleague is, literally, wolfing down her food.

Goodness gracious! Take it easy lady! Why rush through the lunch so much? There’s still time in hands, don’t you know,” I bellowed in an unnaturally sweet way.

But then, this female has turned a deaf ear.  And, so, the wolfing down continues in full gusto.

“Okay! Then Keep Going.” For a fraction of a second, I even thought that she’d choke.

But then, she is habituated, you know. And now, yes, the lunch is over and done with, and now she is moving towards her next assault: Playing Clash of Clans on iPhone, that is.

“Oh! Blimey! She’s already got involved with it from the word go.”

There you go! Not just her, but there’s an entire entourage of employees in the canteen busy playing the same game, as if their life depended on them.

Sigh! Office gossip sessions are the thing of the past now.

Like it or not, the big gaming bug has bitten the whole wide world.  And it’s an open secret that Apple is milking this category for what its worth. For your information, it’s the gaming market that has set Apple’s App Store sales scorching to a record-high of $15 billion in 2014.

Gaming apps are the most popular apps

In June 2015, Gaming apps were the most popular apps

with a share of 21.8% in the Apple App Store 

Game Sessions Share AMER


And what with Apple’s new play thing in the market – Smartwatches – the company might apparently hit a jackpot this year with 2.79 million Apple Watches already sold. How? Though Apple harped on health and fitness tracking, communication and style as the best reasons to opt for its wearable’s, but games apparently are the most lucrative apps on iPhones. And, not surprisingly, Apple staff is gearing up to make the most of this golden opportunity by making its smartwatch gaming-app-friendly.

Huh! Gaming apps for Apple Watch? Does it sound like a marketing balderdash, given the screen size of the watch?

Mind you! Don’t go by its miniature screen size. Didn’t they say, good things come in small packages. Anyway, an audacious few mobile app developers have already worked up their nerves to conjure some brilliant gaming apps for the iWatch. Runebalde, for instance. For your information, of the 6000 apps created for the smartwatch since its debut in April, about 10 percent are gaming apps, a significant 94% rise in less than three months time according to App Annie.

Given the rising demand for gaming apps, Apple went ahead and updated its Watchkit.

But then, unmistakably, it will be the Apple Watch users who will be having the last laugh given that they’ll get to engage with the watch in an unheard off way. As in, bored employees can now go ahead and take a rejuvenating break with the twist of a wrist in the midst of an endless meetings. Whoa…sounds interesting…no?

That said, I need to admit, this was an unlikely coupling. With such a miniature screen size, just 1.54-inch screen real-estate, game developers perhaps would have been utterly bamboozled…scratching their heads and racking their brains no end so as to discover new ways and means to engage with this Gen-next technology platform.

Now, as a game developer do you envisage making mobile game apps for smartwatches? If yes, get going then. But before you embark on this revolutionizing app development journey for Apple Smartwatches, do spare some time and glance through these must-haves, which can turn out to be quite an amazing resource during the Apple watch gaming app development process.

1] Gaming Lengths

Radically simplify the game-play for smartwatches.  Focus short play sessions. Rather, keep it short and sweet.

For instance, the makers of Runeblade, ‘Everywhere Games’ developed game sessions that lasted between 5-15 seconds. Nothing more. Being a fantasy role-playing game, Runeblade had some lengthy gameplay sessions for iPhones. But then, that was iPhone and not watch. So, understandably, the Everywhere team went ahead and squeezed its core concept to something that game  players could enjoy on their small –screen timepieces.

Plus, the Everywhere team also had to take into account the watches’ battery limitations and limited development tools. Yes, the challenges were many. But then despite them, the company successfully launched Runeblade just in time for the release of the Apple Watch.

2] User Interaction

Given that the diagonal screen real estate of the smartwatch is just 1.54 inches, the scope for user interaction is almost zero. (This I am gauging from my mind’s eye).  Even then, game developers are ruddy sure about employing the touch screen for screen tapping and even want the gamers to put their finger on the display. But then, they really need to think twice before they go about with it, because tapping on screens will automatically block a majority of the action that’s taking place on the screen itself. Hmm…so, is there a way out? Yes! Just check out this video, to know how Runeblade maneuvered this treacherous terrain.

3] Brand New OS

Here’s awaits some real good news for third-party game developers: the updation of Apple’s Watch Kit Operating System. Referred to as WatchOS 2, the OS is now at par with Mac and iOS devices. Now, how is this updated Watch Development SDK going to help the game developers? Well, given that the new OS is armed with an assortment of features, which will help developers create better native apps that could be directly operated from the Watch. Though 1.0 did support third-party apps, but then the majority of the app load was managed by the tethered iPhone. And not the watch. This led to slow application speed and all, which made the game developers wary about creating new apps for watches.

Now with Watch OS2, the loophole has been plugged-in. You could directly operate native apps from the watch.

4] Upgraded Hardware

Apple’s improved Watch Development SDK Watchkit can now be fully exploited by  third-party game developers as well. As in, they can now develop native apps using Watch’s hardware features, which wasn’t the case with Watch OS 1.0.  In other words, the third-party developers were not able to run their apps natively on WatchOS 1.0 because they didn’t have access to certain hardware features.  This was a huge limitation for game development.

However, WatchOS 2 hardware  includes Watch’s TapTic Engine, Accelerometer, Digital Crown, GPS, heart rate sensor, built-in mic (along with voice control), speakers and video playback which will help third-party developers build native apps.

Apple-Watch-hardware update


5] Advertising Potential

With no fewer than 6000 apps of which 10% being game apps, in-app advertising potential is apparently huge in Apple Smartwatches.  However, don’t forget the fact that in-app purchases in not possible in the iWatch due to its hardware limitations.

OpenXcell’s 2 cents

The coming together of Gaming apps and Apple iWatch can be reckoned as a turning point in the gaming history, given that gamers can just twist their wrist and start playing games, anytime, anywhere, which wasn’t the case with iPhones. With iPhones gaming apps you can go only go so far.

That said, if developers think that Watches’ small screen could be a defeating factor, all we can say now is they are hugely mistaken. In fact, what you consider as a serious limitation could turn out to be the biggest advantage for the game developers and the gaming world per se. As gamers will now be tempted to start playing games anywhere and everywhere. So, go ahead, pick up your courage and start developing gaming applications for iWatches. OpenXcell gaming developers can pitch in anytime if need be.


Jini Maxin

Jini Maxin

Well folks, Appy Times are here. Though I am no appoholic, I am in an industry that breathe apps. So, despite myself, I keep waking up to smokin’ hot cuppa of app stories every day. So, do you like what I prattle here? Duh! Of course, you do. So just go ahead and scribble a line or 2 here in the comment box below, or share them on social media. Why? Because it will load me with just enough confidence to prattle a li'l (lot) more :)