We gamers are a pretty creative bunch, I’d say. Whether gaming has intrinsically taught us to use our imaginations or whether gaming simply has become a venue to exercise our creative muscles, there seems to be a connection between enjoying video games and creativity. But despite many creative endeavors video game lovers have taken on in the past, we may have found one of the most creative and unique projects to date.
What happens when you give a bunch of gamers with a history in the corporate tech world the creative freedom to develop a smartwatch? You get the Gameband: the first smartwatch designed by gamers, for gamers. Developed and designed by FMTwo Game Inc., the Gameband promises a smartwatch experience that surpasses what we have previously seen from the likes of LG, Pebble, Fitbit, Apple, etc. Not only does the watch sport some of the basic functionality we have seen become commonplace on smartwatches, including notifications support, fitness tracking capabilities, basic watch face customization, etc., but this watch also offers a gaming experience untouched by previous smartwatch attempts.
Now, you may be thinking “why in the world would someone want to play games on a small one and a half inch screen?” If this is you, then you are bringing up a valid point. Though the watch does offer on-screen gaming, it goes beyond that. Like..way beyond that.
Think Microsoft’s new Continuum feature we have seen their new Windows Phones sport. You plug your compatible Windows Phone into a monitor using the Continuum Dock, and BAM, fully functioning Windows 10 Machine. Well, with the Gameband, just plug your watch into any existing computer, and BAM, you have yourself a gaming console. Yeah, you read that right. FMTwo Game Inc. has promised a gaming experience we have never seen before. We have seen portable console games before, we have seen smartwatches before, but never have we seen either of those products coexist like this before.
On top of that, the watch runs a version of Android 6.0 so we know the UI will be familiar. The watch is also said to be compatible with both iOS and Android, and FMTwo Game Inc. is developing a companion app for your phone to manage the content on the watch, as well as change watch faces and handle other customisability functions. As well as some of the most basic productivity apps, Gameband will include Alexa voice control, a built in music player, and it's own weather app. Though this is very impressive, this still leaves me with many questions. Will it have the benefit of the Play Store? Will it run native Android Apps? Only time will tell.
Now that is all fine and dandy, but why do we buy consoles to game on in the first place? Because they look cool on our tv stands, or in this case on our wrists? No. It’s all about the games. Sure, they aesthetic of the console matters, and it matters more than ever in this case, but if the console doesn’t play good games then why would a gamer buy it? So how could this puny “console” play anything worth writing home about?
To start off, let me say this topic is what really got me excited about the Gameband, as it should be. The smartwatch creators
have partnered with the likes of Atari and Terraria to bring the two gaming experiences to the Gameband ecosystem. The watch will do this through the company’s Steam-like application they have named PixelFurnace. PixelFurnace is the driving force behind the gaming experience. You load the PixelFurnace platform onto your smartwatch and from there you can download and play games of your choice. FMTwo Games have promised Terraria, Aestroids, Pong, Breakout, Centipede, and Crystal Castles. Other than this small list of retro games, I am not 100% sure what other options will be made available through PixelFurnace, but I know that I am personally excited to see what this could mean for the Indie gaming scene.
On top of the gaming features, the watch has quite an impressive spec sheet. It’s rocking the Snapdragon Wear 2100 Processor, a 1.6 inch amoled display with a 320 x 320 resolution, 512 gb of RAM, 400 mAh battery, a usb type-c port for charging and it’s display output feature, plus the watch boasts up to 256 gb micro SD expandability. Some of those features are pretty standard, but an actual amoled display and the micro SD support really do set this watch apart. Bundle that in with a splash resistant rating of IPX4, swappable bands and cross platform compatibility with Android and iOS and you have one of the most compelling smartwatches the market has ever
And it’s all thanks to you us, the gaming community.
Am I gonna buy this watch? Honestly...I probably will. Not only is it unique, fun, and inventive, but compared to other smartwatch alternatives, the Gameband boasts a very competitive price point. The watch launched on Kickstarter just the other day so we have over a month to decide before the campaign ends. Though, at the time of writing this article, the super early bird special is sold out, there is still the custom early bird special available which offers $50 off the retail price, as well as other various tiers to choose from ranging from $150 to $7,000. Also, the campaign is already WAY over it’s funding goal, so you bet your bottom dollar this project is becoming a reality. Watches are expected to ship this October according to the timeline posted on the page, but only time will tell if the manufacturing process will get done on schedule or if the project will fall victim to the ever present issues that characterize the crowd-sourcing business model.
Let us know what you think about the Gameband. Would you be interested in purchasing one yourself? Leave a comment below or get ahold of us on Twitter or Facebook letting us know your thoughts. You can find us @EarlyAccGaming on twitter and facebook.com/earlyaccgaming respectivley. We look forward to hearing from you. There is much more to talk about regarding this piece of hardware, so stay tuned to EAG for future coverage of the Gameband, and be sure to head over to their Kickstarter campaign page to read more about the project.