The Apple Watch turned one year old on Sunday, and Macworld decided to use the device's anniversary as an opportunity to revisit the state of gaming on Apple's first wearable. While the launch of the Apple Watch brought a wave of excitement for users and developers alike, the subsequent months saw a noticeable dive in both buzz-worthy Apple Watch game announcements and user interest, with a few exceptions.

As it was in April 2015, developers still believe that what works best for Apple Watch games are short, "quick-hit experiences" that get users in and out of fun, engaging games before raising their wrist grows tiresome. Everywhere Games CEO Aki Järvilehto, whose company created one of the first popular Apple Watch games, Runeblade [Direct Link], believes that as well as quick bursts of entertainment, wrist-worn games should "grow with the player" over the course of a few days, weeks, and even months.

apple watch pong
The company's viewpoint has netted an enthusiastic fanbase who have created detailed wiki pages and generate an active subreddit on Runeblade. According to Everywhere Games' statistics, active players log into the game about 100 times per day. Runeblade crafted a bite-sized RPG experience that's become a model for other Apple Watch games, but another popular blueprint being followed by developers comes from Three Minute Games' interactive fiction experience Lifeline [Direct Link], which puts players in the shoes of the only person who can communicate with a distant, stranded astronaut.

All the same, some developers simply think gaming and the Apple Watch don't mix at all. Indie developer Jacob Williams said it took him essentially one day with the initial watchOS SDK sent to developers ahead of the device's launch to realize that Apple's new wearable was simply never "going to work for gamers." Williams' beliefs underscore a late 2015 and early 2016 largely bereft of flashy, big title Apple Watch games akin to those found in the iOS App Store. A Tiny Game of Pong [Direct Link] developer Matt Wiechec thinks that Apple could be helping in this regard more than it currently is.

“It’s not often that I open the Watch app to check for new apps, and I bet this is the case for a lot of people. There aren’t many new Watch apps that Apple showcases, so each week you check, don’t find anything new, and you slowly build a habit of checking less often,” admits Wiechec. “I think it would be much better if Apple integrated Watch apps directly into the main App Store app; adding a new category for them, adding top charts, but also showcasing them on the Featured page for users who own an Apple Watch.”

Still, most of the developers that spoke with Macworld remain optimistic about the future of gaming on the platform, pointing out that even though it has been a year, that's only one year into the lifespan of an entirely new platform. Nearly all agree that the introduction of native app features in watchOS 2 -- and Apple's upcoming clamp down on any non-native apps -- is perhaps the biggest motivator for high-quality game development on the Apple Watch.

Check out Macworld's full article on Apple Watch gaming, along with a number of developer interviews, right here.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 9
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

BeardMan7 Avatar
106 months ago
The last thing, I really need on my Apple Watch is gaming.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gaximus Avatar
106 months ago
I don't see the benefit of playing games on the watch over the phone. I've tried it and its just easier on the phone. The watch is better as a quick view of notifications and quick replies.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chrismail627 Avatar
106 months ago
Oh yeah, cause I want to play games on a screen the size of a postage stamp.

/s
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WestonHarvey1 Avatar
106 months ago
The problem with Apple Watch apps in general is that they just don't do anything. Watch app developers didn't have the Wild West period of discovery they had with iPhone apps. Before the damn watch was even out, developers were already issuing decrees about what a watch app should be.

This has led to a wasteland of apps that show you a tiny bit of information, and just when it looks like you're starting to go somewhere with your interaction, you're told to pull out your iPhone if you want to do anything more.

How about you just let me read the rest of the damn article on my watch, and I'll decide when my wrist is tired, OK? I'll pull out my phone when I feel like it.

These game developers just sounded like they took one look at it and gave up instantly. How do you know what people will play if you don't even try?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Oblivious.Robot Avatar
106 months ago
I only tried a few 'gaming' apps, but gave up soon enough as it took ridiculously long to even load.
But also, holding the arm at an L angle for a while does tend to hurt in a couple of minutes.
Most definitely not an enjoyable experience!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
paulrbeers Avatar
106 months ago
My watch is for telling time, notifications, weather, etc (i.e. quick data consumption). It is not meant for long term use form an app perspective.... I've all but turned off any other app.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

6chatgpt mac app

5 Reasons to Use OpenAI's ChatGPT App for Mac

Thursday May 23, 2024 6:07 am PDT by
On May 13, OpenAI during its Spring Update announced that it would be releasing a desktop ChatGPT app for the Mac in the "coming weeks," and said that ahead of a wider launch it had started rolling out the app to some ChatGPT Plus subscribers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. After testing the app for a few days, we thought it was worth sharing some reasons why...
new best buy blue

Best Buy's Memorial Day Sale Has Record Low Prices on iPads, MacBooks, and Much More

Friday May 24, 2024 7:12 am PDT by
Best Buy today kicked off its Memorial Day weekend sale, and it has some of the best prices we've tracked in weeks on iPads and MacBooks. Specifically, you'll find record low prices on the 5th generation iPad Air, iPad mini 6, M2 MacBook Air, and M3 MacBook Pro. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment,...
macOS 15 Feature

macOS 15 System Settings to Get Design Overhaul

Thursday May 23, 2024 12:51 pm PDT by
With the macOS 15 update that is set to debut at WWDC in June, Apple plans to rearrange "menus and app UIs," according to a report from AppleInsider. The System Settings app, which was last updated with macOS Ventura, will get one of the biggest updates. With macOS Ventura, Apple renamed the System Preferences app to System Settings, introducing a design similar to the Settings app on the...
iPhone 16 Pro Max Generic Feature 2

5 Biggest Changes Rumored for iPhone 16 Pro Max

Tuesday May 21, 2024 7:29 am PDT by
Given Apple's rumored plan to add an all-new high-end tier to its iPhone 17 series in 2025, this could be the year for Apple to bring its boldest "Pro Max" model to the table — the kind of iPhone 16 upgrade that stands tall above its siblings, both figuratively and literally. If you have been holding out for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, here are five of the biggest changes rumored to be coming...