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.