Minecraft — Mojang’s breakout game of exploration, survival, and creativity — is a huge deal, and has a very passionate body of fans ranging from little kids on up through adults. Many of them should be excited to learn about Gameband + Minecraft, a USB bracelet that carries a copy of Minecraft and all of your worlds with you wherever you go.
Plug it into any computer — Windows, Mac, or Linux–and within minutes you can be playing your game anywhere. It’s the first product from Gameband, the first licensed wearable for Minecraft, and a new tech category altogether.
You can pop it into a parent’s laptop on a long flight or at the school computer lab.
In addition to the core game, the Gameband also comes pre-loaded with a bunch of special, modified scenarios created by top modders from the community like Sethbling, Hypixel, and Dragnoz. These include things like battle arenas, zombie survival, and a building contest. It’s a fun array of activities, and more will be added over time.
The main reason people will buy this, though, is to take their own custom worlds with them anywhere. All of the data is stored locally on the band, and if you have an Internet connection it will back everything up to Gameband’s cloud servers after you’ve finished playing. This is a free service for the first year, after which it will cost $10 per year.
The Gameband also acts as a watch, showing the time, date, and custom animations on its little, 140 pixel LCD screen. It includes an app called PixelFurnace that can also be used on any computer to customize what it shows, and you can select from pre-loaded animations, or create your own of up to 50 frames at 1-30 frames per second.
When fully-charged, the battery will keep the watch display going for 20 or more days of regular use, and it recharges whenever plugged into a USB port. It utilizes the most recent USB 3.0, which ensures the fast data transfer speeds necessary to run the game off of it.
The band itself feels very high quality. It has a flexible strap made of durable thermoplastic polyurethane, which is soft — somewhere between plastic and rubber; it’s easy on the wrist and resistant to smudging. It also has a nice weight to it, and the stainless steel clasp has a satisfying little click when you close it. Clasping it around your wrist is tricky with one hand, and there’s a slight danger of pinching, especially if your wrists are hairy like mine, but it’s easy to get the hang of.
I tested the large version, which is 7.2 inches around and fits loosely and comfortably around my normal, adult-sized forearm. It also comes in a smaller size at 6.7 inches with children in mind. The design on the clasp is based on redstone, which is appropriately the material in Minecraft used to build circuitry. Gameband says it will also release other designs in the future.
It’s splashproof, but not water tight, so you probably want to take if off for showers and squirt gun fights, and you definitely don’t want to take it deep sea diving.
So who is this for? Anyone that loves Minecraft and wants to be able to play it on any computer, wherever they go. The founder of Gameband told me that he got the idea from his Minecraft-obsessed children, and that seems like the most logical target audience for this. Pop it into a parent’s laptop on a long flight, or a relative’s computer during a family visit, or at the school computer lab (shh … don’t tell them I said that).
At first, this won’t make sense, but we recommend the Minecraft Gameband to anyone that might want the Minecraft Gameband. It has a fairly niche appeal, but for what the Gameband sets out to do, it does it very well, and there isn’t anything else out there on the market quite like it. It will cost you $80, but that seems entirely reasonable, given the quality. The team put a lot of work into making sure that this is a really nice object that you’ll want to hold on to.
This is the first product from Gameband, but the company promises to expand its Minecraft experience and adding new game lines later this year. I’ll chat with the team again at E3 in June and will share with you all what’s coming.
- Easy to use for playing within minutes of plugging in to a new computer
- Good construction and high quality materials
- Generous cloud support
- Niche appeal