Wearable computers are about to take off thanks to devices like the Apple Watch, and a collective of industry veterans in Finland want to start making games for the platform now.
Everywear Games is a new studio based out of Helsinki that focuses all of its efforts on making games for smartwatches. Veterans from studios like Remedy, Digital Chocolate, and Rovio started the company. Investors Petteri Koponen, of Lifeline Ventures, and Nikolaj Nyholm, Sunstone Capital partner, are backing the project. Both have joined Everywear’s board of directors. and Koponen is acting as chairman. Earlier this month, Apple provided all of the details about the Apple Watch, which will launch in April. It will join a market currently filled with a handful of other smartwatches, where gaming is only just starting to take off.
“We see wearable tech as the most exciting new platform of 2015,” Everywear chief executive officer Aki Järvilehto said. “As developers, this year presents an unrivalled opportunity to craft completely original gaming experiences for a global audience.”
Smartwatches are still so new that no one has really established how they will work as a gaming platform. Apple and the other companies are designing their wearables so that you do not need to stare at them for long periods of time to get information, and that seems like the opposite of something like Angry Birds or Candy Crush.
But Everywear realizes that it cannot just port smartphone games to your wrist.
“Let’s start with making something very clear,” Järvilehto told GamesBeat. “Smartwatch games which we’ve seen so far are not representative of the games which we are going to see this year. And I think a lot of people are going be very surprised this spring.”
So far, Android Wear — Google’s smartwatch platform — has seen a few simple puzzle games. Everywear is considering something completely different.
“We’re very ambitious in terms of games we want to create,” said Järvilehto. “We want them to turn into hobbies and something people can feel passionate about. And yes, it’s a fascinating design challenge. One of the most exciting in years.”
Järvilehto says the transition from smartphones to watches is a lot like the jump from consoles to mobiles.
“A lot of people were claiming that it’s hard to create meaningful experiences on such a small screens,” he said. “Then games like Angry Birds and Clash of Clans happened and proved that you can deliver games which turn into hobbies and players feel passionate about.
“We are going to see same dynamics take place with smartwatches,” he continued. “The form factor is an exciting design challenge. But more important is how people will be using these devices. Because you wear them almost all the time it’s going to feel a lot more emotional and intimate. And that’s why the games have to deliver something new, something different from what you’ve ever experienced before.”
Everywear wasn’t ready to talk about the specifics of what its games will look like, but Järvilehto did explain what smartwatch games will need to succeed.
“Smartwatch games have to balance simplicity, complexity and depth in a way which integrates to your daily life in a seamless way,” he said. “They have to be absolutely intuitive and pick up and play. Yet they need to offer complexity in a way that puts the player in charge.”
In the end, Everywear just wants to add fun to smartwatches.
“We are the first game developer that is fully focused on smartwatches and I think that gives us a design advantage,” said Järvilehto. “We’re shipping multiple games this year and look to get feedback from players worldwide. And you learn so much with each game you ship.”
“It’s energizing to do something that has never been done before,” Everywear chief technology officer Mika Tammenkoski said. “The potential for natively developed games on wearables is limitless. We’re striving to perfect the wearable gameplay experience.”
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