The Apple Watch is good for many things – quickly answering texts and incoming calls, receiving important notifications, navigating your way through city streets, and more. But it hasn’t been seen as much of a gaming platform, for obvious reasons. However, there’s now a new game that might actually be fun to play on the device’s small screen thanks to its simple nature and the clever way it takes advantage of the Watch’s digital crown. Yep, that’s right – you can now play a game of Pong right on your Apple Watch.
The app, “A Tiny Game of Pong,” brings the classic 70’s game to your smartwatch, but with a modern twist. The free download offers gameplay in a fast-paced, endless arcade mode where the goal is to last as long as you can with the goal of getting ranked on Apple’s Game Center leaderboards.
If you’re craving a different kind of gameplay, you can purchase an in-app upgrade for $0.99 that will allow you to unlock a “playoff” mode that pits you against an AI component in a first to three match. Leaderboards are also available for this mode, tallying your total wins, the game’s creator, Matt Wiechec, explains.
Plus, the in-app purchase will also unlock a variety of themes in colors like red, green or blue, so you can match the game to the color of your Apple Watch band. (Ha!) You’ll also get a badge next to your name on the leaderboards to indicate you’re a “supporter.”
To actually play the game, you simply turn the digital crown on the watch to move your paddle. It’s a great time killer for when your phone is stashed but you still want to fiddle with something digital as a distraction.
Whether or not “A Tiny Game of Pong” ends up as more than a flash in the pan, of course, remains to be seen. But it’s worth noting that a handful of developers are building simplified games for Apple’s smartwatch these days that take advantage of the digital crown to enhance gameplay. Another in the works, for example, is “Break this Safe,” which uses a combination of haptic feedback and the digital crown to help players break into a virtual safe.
Wiechec has a penchant for creating clever little apps, having built an app called “Marco Polo” in the past which lets you find your phone by shouting “marco!” like in the kids’ game.
He says that he was inspired to build Pong as a way to teach himself watchOS development, and believed Pong’s gameplay was straightforward enough to translate well to the small screen.
“Plus, when the new API opened up the Digital Crown to developers it seemed like a great fit – the original game had a dial control, too,” he notes.
Wiechec built “A Tiny Game of Pong” over the course of five months. Some of that time was spent on the app’s website and marketing, as well as testing various prototypes to see what performed better. In addition, because watchOS 2 doesn’t support the Game Center framework natively, the developer says he had to work on syncing the watch app with the iPhone to make the leaderboards feature possible.
For now, Wiechec believes the app will be a novelty.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a game on the Apple Watch that quite nails the platform down yet. But there’s a fiddliness and presence to the watch that could work well for it,” he says.
The app is free on iTunes.