Ever since the Blackberry Playbook tablet came out with the QNX-based operating system (OS), Blackberry had a software platform that was genuinely gaming capable. That was clearly not the case of previous Blackberry OSes that were all about “security and enterprise” features — at the expense of app performance. With Blackberry 10, a fresh page has been turned and it is also a new opportunity for developers, under certain conditions…
Let’s take a look at what Blackberry brings to the table: there are only two ways to sway game developers: the first is to have a huge platform that could generate (the conditional is important here) big revenues, which is what Apple and Android have at the moment. Blackberry simply doesn’t for now, although the company app progress is quite fair, by historical standards. In financials terms, developers that aim at emerging markets where credit card adoption is low would tend to win the most by launching on Blackberry because it supports in-carrier billing in large parts of those regions. Apple is almost exclusively credit-card based, and Google Play has limited carrier billing at best. The downside is that those markets may not be as affluent.
Secondly, Blackberry has what seems to be a great development environment. They have embraced Microsoft Visual studio, which is by far the favorite IDE (integrated development environment) among game developers. Apple’s XCode fares “OK”, and Android’s development environment tends to rank the lowest in terms of developer satisfaction (especially with those who had prior PC/console development experience).
Blackberry hopes that game developers will use its platform and tools as their primary target, then port to other platforms. It’s not an easy one, but since games tend to use native code, porting apps using C/C++ and some OS-specific “wrapper” code doesn’t seem so bad, if that was planned properly from the start.
At GDC, I’ve looked at Blackberry’s SDK and IDE, and I really liked what I saw. This is still an uphill battle, but having good tools clearly makes a big difference. As you may know, Blackberry intends to release more smartphones in 2013, and this is a good thing because if the company wants to enter the gaming arena, it also needs edgy hardware — there’s no way around it. Developers always target the high-end hardware and “dumb down” games later to reach a larger audience.
Did you think that Blackberry would have a real chance at being a good mobile gaming platform? Drop a comment below.