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If Pokemon GO can't save the Apple Watch, nothing will

Will it be a new lease of life for wearables?
If Pokemon GO can't save the Apple Watch, nothing will
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It's safe to say that Super Mario Run stole the show at Apple's recent keynote event.

Apple kicked off the event in a big way by bringing out Shigeru Miyamoto to announce an official mobile adaptation of one of the biggest gaming franchises of all time.

So big in fact that it somewhat lessened the impact of what followed – Pokemon GO on Apple Watch.

Nobody's listening

The Apple Watch has had something of a rough ride since it launched, particularly in the gaming world.

Apple left its sales figures out of its reports, it's only had a handful of games worth talking about, and beyond the occasional story about the one or two successful games on the hardware, no one is really talking about it.

Rumours of a new Apple Watch brought some excitement into the wearables space, but for gaming, it seemed like all was done.

And now Pokemon GO, arguably the biggest mobile game of all time, is going to make its way onto Apple Watch. It's a move that could shake up the whole scene.

For wearables, there was never a killer app.

Big hitters

Ordinarily when a new console or piece of gaming hardware comes out, everyone talks about the "killer app" – the game that will cause people to flock to it.

For mobile, it was Angry Birds. For the Wii, it was Wii Sports.

For wearables, however, there has yet to be a true killer app.

Indies like Bossa Studios jumped in to give it their best, but its title Spy_Watch failed to set the world on fire.

Pokemon GO appearing on stage at Apple's event
Pokemon GO appearing on stage at Apple's event

Indeed, the "poster child" of gaming on wearables is Runeblade from Everywear, a Finnish developer specifically set up to make games on smart watches.

And while it would be rude to knock Runebladewhich is doing perfectly well of its own accord – it doesn't exactly have the same star power of Pokemon GO.

We have the technology

There's also the case of having the hardware to actually run the game.

Pokemon GO is location-based, so without the new GPS technology in the Apple Watch Series 2, it wouldn't have been able to run on a wearable device.

Pokemon GO Plus might cannibalise the potential audience since it does essentially the same thing as the Apple Watch app.

But now you can walk around, checking in on your eggs to see if they're hatching and clearing out Pokestops of all their items, all from the comfort of your wrist.

You do still need to take your phone out to capture any wild Pokemon, but your Apple Watch is at least capable of telling you when one's nearby.

Save me

It would be perhaps a little optimistic to say that Pokemon GO is going to single-handedly "save" the Apple Watch.

No one is going to realistically pay $369 for a piece of hardware that plays most of a game currently available on mobile.

And there's also the concern that Niantic's own peripheral, the Pokemon GO Plus, might cannibalise the potential audience, since it does essentially the same thing as the Apple Watch app at a fraction of the cost of the Watch itself.


But it will certainly drive interest in games on wearables, and bring more people into the App Store looking for things to play on their Apple Watches.

It also shows off a few of the new things now possible for developers on the hardware.

And with more interest in the store, and more interest in playing games, then more developers will want to jump in on the action.

Go on then

At the end of the day, if Pokemon GO can't save the Apple Watch from becoming a faded memory for games in the annals of history, then nothing else will.

It's a game that fits perfectly on the new hardware, and makes the act of raising eggs and getting items even easier.

It might not be a full-fledged title – if such a thing is even possible on Apple Watch – but it's certainly enough to capture the eye of anyone looking for something to play on their wearable.

The real question now is whether developers will jump on the hardware in the wake of Pokemon GO, or if the title will be a flash-in-the-pan that fizzles out as quickly as it arrived.

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