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Is Android Wear for Gaming?

Posted by Alex Bailey On May - 4 - 2016

There are now more than two million Android apps crammed into Google Play and, according to Statista, 41.2% of those apps are games. From free play simulators to paid for platforms, the Android market is literally buzzing with games of all shapes and sizes.

With users now comfortable downloading everything from Rovio Entertainment’s Angry Birds and 32Red’s Game of Thrones by Microgaming to Oddrok Action’s Power Hover, the market is now looking towards wearable tech. Although we’re a long way from replacing smartphones with Android watches when it comes to our gaming needs, there is bound to be a move towards this dynamic in the coming years.

Fossil’s concept watches” (CC BY 2.0) by  Robert Scoble 

Games Don’t Seem to Fit

However, while it might seem like a game on your wrist is the neatest thing since sliced bread, things might not be as cool as you might think. Android Wear supports around 4,000 third-party apps, but none of them are games. Although you can download a Pac-Man backdrop, you can’t play the game itself. Without delving too far into the mechanics of the latest watches, the reasons why are obvious.

For example, let’s look at one of the most popular mobile gaming options on the market today: slots. When you look through the list of online slots from 32Red UK, you’ll see that detail is crucial. The previously mentioned Game of Thrones by Microgaming is one of the most popular slots for a variety of reasons. Aside from offering embedded images and clips from the hit US show, the game’s dynamics allow you to adjust the betting from £0.15 to £3 and spread that stake across 243 win lines.

When you’re playing online or via your mobile you can adjust these variables with a few clicks. However, consider this dynamic on an Android watch where the interface is at least 50% smaller than your smartphone and where the capacity for controlling a game is significantly decreased. Essentially, it wouldn’t work.

LG Watch Urbane” (CC BY 2.0) by  Janitors 

Detail Key To Gaming

What about one of the top Android games of 2016: Lost in Harmony? Described as a musical odyssey, this anime adventure from Digixart Entertainment allows you to customise a character’s clothes and appearance as you travel through 30+ “painted environments”. On your smartphone this looks fantastic, but on a watch probably not so much. But wait, that’s not the only problem with gaming with Android Wear.

Battery power is still a problem with smartphones and tablets and things aren’t any better on your watch. Although you can now download a Wear Battery Stats app to check your device’s vital signs, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to prolong your gaming to an acceptable level. In fact, we only have to look at one of the first Android Wear games to hit the market, Guns ‘n’ Glory.

Aside from Techradar describing it as “bad” because it doesn’t have “any buttons”, the graphics are relatively simple. The reason for this is because the developers have a limited space to work with and anything too complicated would drain the watch’s battery in minutes. Indeed, when you compare Guns ‘n’ Glory to Game of Thrones slot or Lost in Harmony, the difference in quality is like the difference between night and day.

Ways of Something episode 2” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  hellocatfood 

Games and Watches Don’t Work

This, in a nutshell, appears to be the biggest issue with Android Wear gaming. The lack of control and the limited graphics are certainly problems, but even if they can be solved it creates a further problem with battery life. There’s no point crafting a fantastic wearable game if you can’t play it for more than five minutes.
So, in response to our original question (is Android Wear for gaming?) the answer, for the time being at least, is no.

LG Watch Urbane” (CC BY 2.0) by  Janitors 

Android Gaming

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