Making Games for Apple Watch: Challenges Ahead for Mobile Game Developers

Making Games for Apple Watch

Finally, Apple watch is arrived to purchase. We can still remember the moment when iPhone 3G was released and people got crazy for it. After that, it was iPad who again proved Apple to be on top for releasing advance gadgets. And now it is Apple Watch – the first wearable technology of Apple.

With each release, Apple got an important place in game industry. iPhone and iPad, both are still considered as an important part of iOS game development because of their great user experience features. But what about Apple Watch? We all know that Apple Watch doesn’t possess the same power like iPhone and iPad. So, how this device will make its mark in game industry like the previous devices did?

Let’s see the issues of iOS game developers on path of Apple watch game development and their struggles to tackle with them (the issues).

Minuscule Screen Size Challenges

The biggest issue is mini, wrist-mounted display. If you ask to Apple watch game developers about their issues while making game, this will be the first on their list. If game is made for this platform, it would be less satisfying than users’ expectations.

  • Swipes and Taps: Making swipes and taps on 1.54” diagonal screen would be difficult for users. Taps would go wrong frequently, and users will start hating swipes and taps on Apple Watch app. And it is also true that without taps and swipes, it will be a biggest challenge for developers to make games.
  • Companion Apps: To save from taps and swipes issues, developers can make companion apps of iPhone. Like users can simple manage or control via their smartwatch on their smartphone. But in terms of games, users would like to be with standalone Apple watch game as holding two devices (iphone and iwatch) might ruin their gaming experience.

Apple Watch SDK

Small size display is a big issue and one more is added to this: Apple Watch SDK Limitations. Watchkit is limited to creating extension apps revealing basic information on Apple Watch passed from iPhone. Designing language includes simple interactions and interface components like static images, stationary buttons and scrolling lists. Nothing advance for game development.

Trouble with Animations

Developers creating tradition animated sequence for Apple watch will also face some trouble. When you program a game for PC-consoles, tablets or smartphones, you think about moving everything algorithmically (You figure out where you want to move the things). Here (with Apple Watch), the case is reverse. You have to think about where it is possible to move the things looking at the limited hardware capability of SDK.

Battery Life Issues for Gaming Sessions

A game with long gameplay sessions would absorb the entire battery of Apple Watch which around 18 hours. Before making a game, developer has to first deal with this issue as users don’t like to play the game that alert them to charge their watch in every few hours. Currently, game developers are looking to hit a spot of 10 to 15 seconds of gameplay sessions. It means the whole game would be of 5 minutes. But who likes to raise its arm for just 5 mins of entertainment?

How to Tackle Design Challenges

Overall, you have to design a game with 10 to 15 second sessions, but remain interesting for users and don’t drain the battery out. Also, it must deliver a great user experience with sharp controls on a tiny sized display. For this, you have to work on extra small chunks. You have to adopt completely new concepts instead of thinking for creating a mini version of iPhone game.
Being a game developer, you might be facing some more challenges than those given above. Please share your Apple watch game development issues with us on given below comment box.


One thought on “Making Games for Apple Watch: Challenges Ahead for Mobile Game Developers

  1. locksleyu May 7, 2015 / 1:51 pm

    Great article – I’ve talked to many of people on this topic and there are generally two groups: those who think Apple Watch is a new platform which will be the breeding ground for a whole new type of gaming experience, or those that think the watch is pretty much useless, due to small screen and other limitations.

    Of course I am in the first group but I think it will be a long road, and Apple will be evolving the hardware and software along together with us developers.

    Even if nobody can make an awesome game in the first few months, or even year, those developers who have started the process early will be the first ones able to make a really great game on the Apple Watch – thought it make take some SDK updates from Apple first.


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