It's been years in the making, but the smartwatch might be about to transform gaming as we know it.
Following efforts to crack the sector by start-ups such as Pebble, as well as established players like Motorola and Samsung, the launch of the Apple Watch later this month could propel the smartwatch into the mainstream, just like iPhone and iPad did for smartphones and tablets.
And, like the wave of mobile games that followed in the wake of the Apple's iconic handset, this could also have a huge effect on the face of the games market.
One company hoping to be ready should smartwatch gaming take off is Everywear Games.
We're the first game developer to focus on smartwatch games,” says CEO and co-founder Aki Jrvilehto.
We want to be the people who make smartwatches fun.”
Jrvilehto and his team certainly have the repertoire to back up their ambitions.
Jrvilehto served as EVP of Finnish developer Remedy Entertainment for more than two years, launching titles including Alan Wake and its follow-up, American Nightmare. Executive producer Markus Tuppurainen previously served as lead designer at Rovio for four years, leading the creation of multiple Angry Birds games, including spin-off Bad Piggies. Former VP of technology at mobile giant Digital Chocolate, CTO Mika Tammenkoski, completes the trio.
We expect 2015 to be the year of smartwatch gaming,” Jrvilehto continues.
This is all completely new. It's going to be very different from the games you've seen before, and I think a lot of people will be surprised.”
With a number of smartwatches already on the market, some firms have attempted to pare down mobile games – such as Tetris and Flappy Bird – to a wrist-mounted form.
But Jrvilehto says that it will take completely new ideas to allow the platform to fully bloom.
The people who buy smartwatches are going to look for entertainment that's specifically tailored for them,” he explains.
We're talking about very different devices and game experiences.
It's all about creating experiences you can feel emotional about – games that are more fun on a smartwatch than any other screen.”
In fact, Jrvilehto compares the sort of games suitable for smartwatches as being closer to the rapid-fire nature of social media.
We'll deliver ‘Twitter-sized' entertainment,” he states.
Games that you can play in five- to 15-second sessions, where the experience builds from short sessions into something you can be passionate about over days, weeks and months.”
It's all about creating experiences you can feelemotional about – games that are more fun on a smartwatch than any other screen.”
Aki Jrvilehto, Everywear Games
This, Jrvilehto adds, will be the real barrier – defining smartwatches as their own distinct platform, free of an association with smartphones.
We need to challenge ourselves to really understand how people will be playing these games,” he says. When they will be playing them, and what kind of entertainment they want in that context.
That's why we're creating new kind of games.”
The Apple Watch could be the lit match to the fuse of smartwatch gaming, but it remains to be seen which games companies will be first to ride the rocket on the way up. Everywear hopes to be the first on board.
We're going to see a lot of things happening over a very short period of time, with both hardware and software,” Jrvilehto predicts.
The next year will be tremendously interesting and each year is likely to bring something new.
This is the start and now the race is on.”