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A new game platform on an unexpected place: Your wrist

At $6.3 million, the Pebble smart watch is the most successful project in Kickstarter crowd funding history. But could it be a viable platform for making games? Gamasutra talks to its creators.

Tom Curtis, Blogger

April 24, 2012

3 Min Read

As odd as it may seem, developers might soon find a brand new game platform strapped to players' wrists. At least, so says Allerta, the digital watchmaking company behind the Kickstarter-funded Pebble smart watch. The device has already soared past Double Fine's adventure game as the most-funded project in Kickstarter history. It's earned more than $6.3 million so far, and Allerta promises to deliver a sleek, versatile device that does far more than just keep the time. Much like on smartphones, developers will be able to create their own apps for the upcoming device, and Pebble creator Eric Migicovsky told Gamasutra he thinks the watch will attract a healthy audience of game enthusiasts -- making it a great platform for developers looking to experiment with new hardware. "Most of the people at Allerta are gamers, and on Kickstarter, the top two projects after us [Double Fine's untitled adventure game and InXile's Wasteland 2] are games. So I'm thinking there's probably a lot of overlap with those hardcore gamers on Kickstarter," he said. The device is still in production, but the team at Allerta has already prototyped and brainstormed a number of game apps that would work using the Pebble's four buttons, accelerometer, and black and white e-paper screen (which Migicovsky says boasts a refresh rate of 30 frames per second). "Internally, we built Space Invaders on it, and I think there are a lot of really cool little casual games or classic games that we can bring over to Pebble… I can definitely imagine things like Tetris clones, or multiplayer games going on with the watch. It would be awesome." Migicovsky noted that Allerta's previous product, the inPulse Watch, has a small library of games of its own, but he imagines the Pebble's potential is far greater. The trick, he said, is to get developers on board before the device gets off the ground. "We want to work with people in the early days to make it really easy to make awesome little casual games for the watch. So if anyone's interested, definitely get in contact with us!" he said. Migicovsky added that since the watch can connect to iOS and Android phones via Bluetooth, developers can also make apps that connect to the internet, leverage GPS technology, and more. The SDK itself will be available for free, and Allerta plans to provide its own graphics libraries to assist third party developers. "And if anyone has any really sweet use cases [that the SDK doesn't support yet], we could develop it for them!" Migicovsky said. "We've also got a watch app store, so you can even sell your apps for $0.99 or whatever -- I think it's going to be great." The watch is due for official release this September, and since every Kickstarter reward acts as a pre-order, Migicovsky said the device will have a healthy player base even before it goes on sale. "We've sold about 40,000 watches right now, and on day one you could see perhaps 60,000 users, which would be a pretty sweet market for developers. And we want to meet those developers, talk to them, and make really awesome games with them," he said. For more information on the Pebble or its SDK, visit the device's official developer blog.

About the Author(s)

Tom Curtis


Tom Curtis is Associate Content Manager for Gamasutra and the UBM TechWeb Game Network. Prior to joining Gamasutra full-time, he served as the site's editorial intern while earning a degree in Media Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

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