Developing A Gaming App For Apple Watch?

Posted by Davzo Inc

Posted in Development

watch watchOS gaming

The Apple Watch may have only an 1.54-inch screen, but that is by no means a challenge game developers cannot overcome. There are now over 8,500 Apple Watch apps in the Apple App Store, and a significant portion of them are successful games such as the brain teaser Rules!, the text-based adventure Lifeline, the role-playing hit Runeblade, the letter-matching game Letter Zap, the dialog-based spy adventure Spywatch, the enduring Tamagotchi Classic, and the entertaining Trivia Crack. These wonderful games show that gaming on the Apple Watch is not only possible, but can be a fun and unique experience, quite different from gaming on a smartphone or tablet. Why Develop a Game for the Apple Watch

Thinking about developing a gaming app for the Apple Watch? Here are some good reasons you should do it:

  • Gaming apps are the most popular apps on iOS, with a share of 21.8% of the Apple App Store (June 2015).
  • Apple Watch has sold 4.2 million smartwatches in the second quarter of 2015 alone. (Canalys)
  • Apple Watch enables gamers to start playing a game faster than the iPhone or the iPad, with a mere twist of their wrist.
  • The updated WatchOS2 makes the creation of Apple Watch games a straightforward and hassle-free process, allowing you to develop native Apple Watch games that run more smoothly than the iPhone-based apps which were the only ones to run on the watch initially.
  • The Improved Apple Watch Development SDK Watchkit allows you to take full advantage of the smartwatch’s hardware features, eliminating many of the initial game development limitations of the first Watchkit.
  • The Apple Watch is more portable than any other device Apple has released so far.
  • Like other iOS devices, the Apple Watch has a huge advertising potential.

The reasons above not only justify the development of an Apple Watch game, but can even encourage you to shift your app development focus from other platforms to the exciting WatchOS. Before you get started, take a look at the following Apple Watch development guidelines. They can help you build a better and more engaging Apple Watch game that will delight gamers.

Simplified Gameplay

Apple Watch is one of the most advanced wearable devices ever built, but the watch’s limited functionality compared to an iPhone, and especially its small screen, battery limitations, and weaker hardware power means that a radically simplified gameplay is necessary. This can go so far as to limit a player’s gameplay buttons to just a few different actions, as in Runeblade or Trivia Crack. The need for a simplified gameplay for Apple Watch games makes the turn-based game model one of the best for the device. A simplified gameplay doesn’t have to be a limitation, though. It’s only a process of condensing the key gameplay elements into a small but appealing game interface.

Short Play Sessions

It’s uncomfortable to keep your wrist raised for long periods of time. What’s more, the already mentioned Apple Watch limitations invariably impact the ideal gameplay time, placing emphasis on brevity. Successful Apple Watch games such as Runeblade or Lifeline prove that play sessions on a smartwatch work best when they are shorter than on a smartphone or tablet. In both these games, the play sessions last only a couple of seconds, much less than the several minutes of iPhone or iPad games.

Smart Tapping

Because of the Apple Watch’s small screen, you have to rethink screen tapping. This may sound like a huge challenge when you consider that on a 1.54-inch screen every tap invariably means blocking a big part of the screen, together with some of the game action. But you can learn from games like Tamagotchi Classic and Spywatch, which use the whole screen real estate of the Apple Watch to present the game, and then basically pause the screen action until you make your in-game choices. Runeblade does the same.

Graphic-Lite Design

While the Apple Watch’s high-resolution screen displays graphics beautifully, the successful games developed so far for the device put emphasis on the gameplay, rather than the graphics. Graphic design in Apple Watch games seems to be focused on fun and friendly graphics rather than the eye-candy that many iPhone or iPad games have to offer. Unnecessary design elements are stripped down, leaving games only a core graphical experience. Whatever game you want to develop for the Apple Watch, remember that graphics have to be not only pleasing, but also useful, so as not to decrease the functionality of the game or device.

Simple Pricing

Because of the Apple Watch’s hardware limitations, it’s not possible, at least at this stage, to integrate in-app purchases into your games. This leaves you with two options for monetizing your app: make it a paid app, or make it a free app with a built-in advertising model. Of course, you can also make your app entirely free, without a download price or any ads. Choosing the right pricing model for your Apple Watch game depends on your aim and the type of game you’re developing.

The Bottom Line

The Apple Watch is already a good platform for mini-games and, as its adoption across the world continues to increase, the demand for easy to play and enjoyable native Apple Watch games optimized for the device is likely to grow as well. In addition to competition from other developers, however, you also have to face the software design challenges that this new and exciting device comes with. To develop an Apple Watch game that is optimized for the latest WatchOS and that gamers will love, you may want to consider working with our experienced and professional iOS game development team, which has fully embraced Apple Watch game development. We use the latest Watchkit and the best iOS app development tools and strategies to create Apple Watch apps that run smoothly and provide gamers with a rich and fulfilling experience. Whether you want to build a role-playing game, a strategy game, an adventure game, or a trivia, we would be delighted to help you bring your ideas to life. Please contact us to learn more about our Apple Watch game development services.

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