BlackBerry at GDC 2013

By Simon Sage on 1 Apr 2013 04:26 pm EDT

BlackBerry's primary goal at GDC 2013 was to show off the Unity engine running on BB10 and remind devs about the platform's full Bluetooth hardware controller support. The stock Unity demo game, Angry Robots, ran on the Z10 especially well, and I think will really highlight how well it can handle games. By comparison, the Qualcomm benchmark app I saw on the HTC One at GDC wasn't hitting anywhere near the same framerates. Besides that, I saw more than a few Dev Alpha devices being quietly handed off to developers throughout the show; even with BlackBerry 10 released, there's clearly still plenty of evangelizing to do. 

The timing of GDC is particularly interesting since it's dab-smack in the middle of the American Z10 launch. Talking with BlackBerry gaming lead Anders Jeppsson, it was clear he was excited to have a phone that he could show off to the public that they could actually go out and buy. Anders has been working with game developers since the PlayBook, and BlackBerry 10 is very much culmination of all that work. Anders didn't sound overly bothered by the threat of Windows Phone, though many of the developers I talked to showed a keen interest in the competing mobile platform.

Here's the thing: Microsoft has boatloads of money with which to keep pushing Windows Phone forward through the long haul. The platform has been out for two years and it still hasn't made an appreciable dent in smartphone market share, but the cash is there to keep things moving forward regardless. That said, BlackBerry isn't in a much better spot. However great BB10 looks in demos, the new OS is still unproven in a retail environment and developers know it.

Talking with BlackBerry gaming lead Anders Jeppsson, it was clear he was excited to have a phone that he could show off to the public that they could actually go out and buy.

The biggest advantage Windows Phone has over BlackBerry right now is the broad-spanning device ecosystem. Many developers I talked to at PAX East and GDC were actually looking at porting to Windows 8 (PC) following iOS and Android. That doesn't leave a lot of bandwidth for a third mobile platform, but the common tools and certifications does provide an easier on-ramp to Xbox and Windows Phone than BlackBerry 10.

That's a lot stacked against BlackBerry, but BB10's Android app player levels the playing field substantially in the fight for developers, plus Microsoft's certification process is notoriously difficult and a major turn-off for indie developers - many of whom left major studios specifically because of bureaucracy.

It's safe to say we're all eager to see how well BlackBerry 10 does in America, but after attending GDC and PAX East, I think it will be a close race for third place as far as developers are concerned. These first few weeks and months are going to be crucial in showing devs and publishers that yes, there is a significant number of Z10s out there, and their users are hungry to buy games. Many great titles have found their way onto BlackBerry World in the pre-launch period, but there are many more devs that are adopting a wait and see approach; it's up to you guys to convince them to stop waiting and start seeing.

If you've noticed a great game on iMore or Android Central, find the developer on Twitter, and make sure they know that you want it on BlackBerry 10.If you've already taken the leap and bought a Z10, don't be shy about buying a few games - it's the only way those devs will know for sure that this is an ecosystem they can reliably keep building for.

Reader comments

BlackBerry at GDC 2013


I work for a major news company in their mobile app and web site support department and I have been showing some higher up people my Z10 and demonstrating their own app running on the device to show them that they can do better for the new platform then having us just tell users to go to the mobile site.

Posted via CB10

Yes, windows phone is getting quite a lot of games at the moment. One that really annoys me and makes me jealous is Temple run, I want it! Although preferably number 2!

Posted via CB10

Your point is valid... I just hope more people get out there and voice the requirements to the Devs... Can we as the crackberry nation pool in resources. I mean, every couple of days pick an app we want to see, post the link/twitter username as an article and get all us readers to follow the steps to blitz the Devs?

Posted via CB10

It's more important for BlackBerry users to put their money where their mouth is and buy made-for-BlackBerry apps. Developers aren't charity workers; they want to be rewarded/compensated for their efforts. If we make BB10 a profitable platform to develop for, developers will flock to it.

2 questions for Simon:
1. Is that Angry Robots a game we'll see released? Know when?
2. Is Union catalog coming to BB10 anytime soon? ANY idea when?

This is how you CB10, son!

It's going to sound selfish, but absolutely the best way to get developers off the fence is to support the smaller devs already on BlackBerry.

If I can tell my iOS dev friends that I'm seeing good sales on BB10, they're far more likely to take the plunge than just being influenced by my enthusiasm for the platform.

Posted via CB10

I didn't think I would be hardcore gaming on my Z1010, until after i started buying some of these AWESOME games. I also use a PSVITA because I love hardcore gaming and being mobile, for work and life stuff. What I've found after getting my Z10 is, it has actually opened me up to an entirely new world of games / gaming. I am actually surprised that i actually use my Z10 more than my PSVITA.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry 10 is a legit gaming platform and I can see how they're (BlackBerry) is embracing that. The way of "Gaming" is growing

Posted via CB10

ive purchased all the major games even know I dont play them lol. Just to support the platform. Im happy with puzzle style games.

Is there an indicator in BlackBerry World that will allow a user to see if the app is native or a port? I'm a newbie to that app catalog, but am very happy supporting small devs and want to make sure I'm rewarding those folks who are doing the lions share of the programming.

Posted via CB10

Good point James. I mentioned that my games are native when I posted them here in the forum but I'm not sure I list it in the description.

Posted via CB10

Making games for Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8 is damn easy and getting them approved is not a problem...
What I'm guessing he means is making XBOX Live titles...yes, that is an area where MS needs to improve things...However, the vast majority of games are not Xbox Live for WP8 or Windows 8 right now and they don't have to make them Xbox Live if they don't want to so I'm not sure I understand his point...

Since WP8, Windows 8 and Xbox"next" are all based (or going to be based regarding xbox next) on the same Windows 8 core, app and game developers will be able to literally write the same code for different devices...this is really a massive advantage and you can already see a bunch of games getting released on the windows store being quickly released on WP8 as well...

Unless the developers bring native BlackBerry OS 10 applications they can keep their Google Android applications out of BlackBerry World. Support BlackBerry OS 10 native application developer; buy their applications.

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

As far as the Android player leveling the play field, this would only be true if the Z10s Android player had even average performance.

I would like to see a fast Android player with a bridge API that Android devs could use to make their apps conform to the BB10 UI.

Right now, the player is far to slow to be a realistic avenue for developers IMHO.

Posted via CB10

Just so I understand, the BlackBerry 10 platform supports Bluetooth game pads its just a matter of adding that support to the title?

Also does BB10 have Bluetooth gamepad support already?

@tallpaul86 via the CB10 app

It's like this : BlackBerry 10 has gained more traction in a shorter period of time than Windows Phone. BlackBerry has done everything right and then some for devs. BlackBerry is Global. Unless you're American, you can't ignore that.
The future is friendly. The future is BlackBerry.
You're welcome.