What's next for gaming on BlackBerry

BlackBerry Gaming
By Adam Zeis on 15 May 2012 01:23 pm EDT

Gaming has never really been something that BlackBerry was known for. We've had the old-standby Brickbreaker since the start as well as a few good games here and there, but we never had the "latest and greatest". When the BlackBerry PlayBook was released, BlackBerry fans everywhere were overjoyed and gaming on the BlackBerry platform changed forever. With the new hardware, we could now have our share of great games as well. Things have come a long way in the last year, and moving forward to BlackBerry 10, it looks like they won't be slowing down.

At BlackBerry World 2012 this year there was a huge BlackBerry 10 vibe, but more so there was a great buzz about gaming. Plenty of big game companies like Marmalade and Gameloft were showing their support and excitement for the BlackBerry 10 platform, and that itself is truly something to look forward to.

As BlackBerry 10 approaches, more and more game companies are getting on board and either making new games for the platform, or porting existing titles over since RIM has been making it so easy to do so. Keep reading and we'll take a quick look at what we can expect for gaming on BlackBerry 10.

Look how far we've come already

When the BlackBerry PlayBook was released, we quickly got an idea of the power of the hardware. RIM included both Tetris and EA's Need for Speed Undercover on the device, and both really showed just how much the PlayBook could handle for games.

If you look back to the older versions of Need for Speed and other games we saw on pre-OS 7 devices, it's pretty crazy to see the difference and how far we've come.

Over the past year we've seen plenty of great titles come along, but only now is BlackBerry getting recognition as a "gaming platform". In the last few months we've seen games like Angry Birds, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Madden 12, Cut the Rope, Plants vs Zombies and Smash Cops all come to the BlackBerry PlayBook. Moving forward we can hope that big-name titles will launch not too far behind their iOS and Android counterparts, which is a huge step for BlackBerry users.

QNX is a gaming platform

It's not hard to see that QNX is miles ahead of the old BlackBerry OS, and thus perfect for gaming. At it's core QNX has the power to do so much, and we can already see that from the current line of available games on the PlayBook.

While we don't know the exact hardware we'll see as the guts of BlackBerry 10 phones, you can bet that they will be prime for gaming. Developers and vendors are really excited about BlackBerry 10, so we can expect plenty of great games to be available.

Just look at the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device hardware -- it already beats that of some current Android devices on the market, and it's not even a consumer device.

RIM is committed to making BlackBerry 10 the next great gaming platform

RIM committed to doing all they can as far as helping game developers get their content onto the platform as well. They are constantly pushing out software tools, APIs and developer betas to further ensure that developers have no problems porting over existing titles or creating new ones. With things like the cross-platform game development framework, gameplay, you can see how easy they are making it on developers.

Some companies have flat out said they would have not ported any games to BlackBerry had it not been for the tools RIM provided. Using "middleware" from RIM, it's easy for developers to get existing or new titles up and running on the BlackBerry platform with little extra effort.

Using things like BBM -- which is almost a platform in and of itself -- helps to make games social and bring additional features that wouldn't otherwise be possible. The BBM infrastructure provides the ability to incorporate in-app chats, stat sharing, game discovery and much more.

For BlackBerry 10, we will see the social aspect of games continue to grow with things like bigger multiplayer gaming and even more socially enabled titles.

BlackBerry 10 will have its own Games App (a la Gamecenter)

RIM plans to release a Games app for BlackBerry 10 as well (yes, much like the iOS Gamecenter). While details are still scarce, this looks to be a central location that will house all of your friends, stats and achievements and act as your social hub for all of your gaming. Rather than having to use each separate game for your records and socializing, the Games app will be the go-to spot for all of your games so everything is all in one place.

If you tend to swap off between your phone and PlayBook for games, you won't have to worry about losing your place either. Some titles will allow you to save all of your stats and achievements across devices, so as you progress you can play on any device and always resume from the same place having the same achievements.

Gaming will go hardcore

As we look ahead even further, even something like starting a game on your phone, then resuming it on your PlayBook isn't out of the equation. The Playstation Vita has the option with certain games, but it's still a fairly new technology. Imagine being able to play a game on your PlayBook from your couch, then resuming it on your BlackBerry 10 phone (or vice versa) as you head out the door to the bus stop.

Along the line of peripherals - it looks like it's something RIM would embrace for gaming on the BlackBerry platform. A while back we saw this awesome SNES-like controller scheme being used to control a game on a PlayBook, but we could soon see straight up third party controllers or even XBOX/PS2/Wii controllers being used with BlackBerry devices. I think this would be a smart move by RIM -- imagine having your PlayBook hooked up to your TV via HDMI and simply using your standard XBOX 360 or PS3 controller to play a game.

The time spent on mobile games has already surpassed that of console games, so that says quite a lot.

Big vendors are excited about BlackBerry 10

Hearing what vendors had to say during BlackBerry World about BlackBerry 10, they are all very excited for the new OS. Already they are making more on BlackBerry than on iOS and Android. Having such a huge following of BlackBerry users that are faithful to their brand just makes them want to do more and more.

BlackBerry users aren't stingy either - they are willing to spend money on quality apps and games and developers/vendors now see that. They know how profitable the BlackBerry Platform is which makes them crank out quality titles they know will do well.

Companies like Gameloft, Square Enix and others already have plans to bring many of their titles to BlackBerry, so we'll continue to see them become available in the coming months.

What's next?

So overall I am really excited about what we'll see down the road for games on the BlackBerry platform. RIM is putting out more tools than ever for developers and they are making sure everyone knows just how great it is to be on the platform. We'll see more big titles heading our way and will have some amazing technology to work with. As we see BlackBerry 10 phones come to market, things like the Games app and more multiplayer titles will take social gaming to a new level.

Where some BlackBerry users never considered their device to be a "gaming device" in the past, new (and current) users will not have that view. BlackBerry 10 will be an amazing gaming platform as well that will draw in new users who look for that and have current users dropping their iOS gaming devices all-together.

What do you want to see for gaming in BlackBerry 10? Bigger, better games? New features? Sound off in the comments and let us know!

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

What's next for gaming on BlackBerry


Dude, RIM has new leadership on board. He has heard your crys and working very to meet your expectations. When has Heins promised you something and not delivered? exactly... Enough with your BS posting and sit back and relax.

Ah yes, I see how it goes. New leadership means that RIM will deliver on their promises to their customers, unlike last year. As an owner of TWO PB32s and TWO 9810s, I want RIM to deliver on their promises. All we have heard recently is BBWorld, BBJam talk and demos which is a good start. But here we are more than a year since the PB was released, and we are just now getting the apps that were promised. Call my comment BS - fine by me. I call BS what was being shoveled last year, codified by "amatuer hour is over". My game folder on the PB32 is filled with the same gaming apps as that shown in the picture. It did NOT look like that at all last year. Deliver on the promises, or don't promise at all.

The only companies that I have had specific responses for over the past few months concerning whether or they would support the Playbook are:

Zen Studios (Zen Pinball)
They have responded with a maybe and that they are trying to determine/estimate the size of the market and whether it would be financially worth the investment.

Digital Chocalate
They gave me a firm no to supporting the Playbook.

Big Fish Games
They responded with a maybe; they're aware of the Playbook and its capabilities as a gaming device but were still debating whether or not to support it.

Taito Games (Space Invaders, etc)
They responded with a no.

Keep in mind this was specifically for the Playbook and not necessarily for BB10 or BB10 phones.

I would like to see Scoreloop grow bigger and be a core part of the Games app. This could be a unique aspect of BlackBerry with Scoreloop/BBM integration to build a next gen social platform for games.
Also RIM has invested in cross-platform gaming as well so I'd like to see Scoreloop grow in parallel with this.

I second this. Make Scoreloop a core gaming 'platform' containing high scores, friends lists, chat rooms, forums/hint systems. Make it multi-platform and make it easy to implement so it becomes the standard.

I'm surprised how so many people now want Blackberry to be synonymous with gaming. Quite a departure from a year ago, where people were stating that the PB was meant for business and getting things done.

Times change...

The precedent was set before the PB was even released though, by tablets preceding it. The buying public is going to expect games.

I don't know about that. For most businesspeople, the 3D capabilities of the PlayBook's hardware are kind of overkill. Plus the name PlayBook implicitly suggested from the get-go that it's not all for work. 

Hi @PineappleUnderTheSea,

Alex from RIM here. While some PlayBook owners do utilize their tablets for games such as Plants Vs. Zombies or Madden 12, the PlayBook also remains a serious business tool for many people. With productivity apps like Remote Desktop and Citrix Receiver to help users connect while away from the office and Docs To Go for updating documents, the PlayBook is a productivity powerhouse.

We are adding new apps and games all the time, so stop by BlackBerry App World often for the latest: http://bbry.lv/bM0QK5


Alex, RIM Social Media Team

i love the way games feel on the playbook. they are all smooth and responsive, and the form factor and size of the playbook make it really easy to hold the playbook while using the on screen buttons.

comparing the early days of the playbook to now, i think the progression has been great. having notable games from Rovio, Gameloft, Ea, and ETC in the app world is a great sight to see.

i think gaming and the bb10 platform will converge gaming and social interaction nicely together. example: playing monopoly with 3 other people, throughout the game, via the multitasking, swipe to the bbm and talk to the people in a multi person conversation while simultaneously playing the game against each other... etc

i hope to see some form of integration where you can invite someone to play a game outside of the game itself. so lets say in bbm, you can just choose a friend and choose some form of option "invite to play draw something". then if friend accepts, game opens for both of you and voila you are playing together. it may not seem like a huge deal, but a simple thing like that would be a nice touch, and it would make things 'flow' better ;)

The "Gaming Will Go Hard Core" hit the nail on the head. I think this is the future of gaming. I want to be able to have a wireless video connection between my PB or BB10 phone to my tv and a wireless controller, completely replacing my video game console. The graphics will take a step back but people will obviously get over that (Angry Birds) Nintendo proved wit the Wii that graphics don't really matter as long as the game is good (ad sometimes not even that matters) and adding the two above functionalities what's my need for a console?

On a secondary note, I would also love for tv's to have built in tablet/smart phone hardware and be your 'hub' for your tablet and smart phone. Imagine seamlessly having the BB10 experience between your phone, tablet and tv.

I have to say, it is hard to fault the PB for gaming. I have the same games on my Android phone and on my PB and they are so much more fun on the PB.

To make gaming on BlackBerry perfect for me, would require a PlayBook with a larger screen. I've found myself hesitant to purchase certain games because the content of those games would be too small on a 7" screen to enjoy. Especially when it comes to text, some games the text appears so small it's difficult to read for people with less than perfect vision.

I can't stress how badly I want RIM to launch a PlayBook with a larger screen. Unfortunately the rumours seem to point to no 10+ inch tablet anytime soon. I really don't want to, but unless I see a glimmer of hope soon, I'm gonna have to expand my tech collection to include an Android device just so I can get a bigger screen. Hell, I may just be crazy enough to get the 13" Toshiba tablet that'll be launching soon.

Please launch a bigger PlayBook, RIM...

Care to give any example as my case is opposite. I tend to go to my PB for all the games due to its 7' form factor as its much better size to play and controls are much easier to handle. I have same games on iPad and PB but if its available on PB, I tend to play on it always.

I've got an original iPad and a Transformer Prime. I bought two PB for a couple pre-teen girls and set them up before I handed them over, and I really liked playing games on the PB. I would also like too see a bigger PB mostly for an option too those looking for a bigger foot print and hence supporting the Blackberry system.

Aren't BB users supposed to be making fun of people who enjoy games on their platform? I can't keep up these days.

Lets face it.....it is nice to leave work, take your PB with you and enjoy a game or two.....I personally love connecting it to my big screen and watching music videos etc.....awesome entertainment.

Its true that gaming on the PlayBook has gotten better and better. I love it, the game play is smooth & responsive & very stable. Now how about the performance of the browser and email? Pretty shoddy. My browser experience is crap! Its always crashing (even w/nothing else running). Why can't I run streaming video in one window and have another running simultaniously? The same goes for email, It starts up slow and crashes with no apparent reason.

Maybe you might want to backup just the apps and not the settings, reload it and then restore the apps. Clean state. I haven't ever had that issue at all.

I have not had Browser issues...do a speedtest on your wifi and see how you fair. (speedtest.net) As for multitasking, I run 5 to 6 programs all at once with no issues. Goto your main settings General-Application Behavior-and make sure it is set to Showcase.....hope that helps.

I don't have any problems with that, but it counter-productive for me to view both at the same time. Check internet connection, but no crashes. NO email problems either. I'm Sorry..

One gaming feature I'd like to see, or see more of if it already exists, is the ability for multiple people to play a game without having to be online at the same time. I really want to be able to make a move in a game and then be able to shut the game down. Other players would then be notified via BBM/Text/Email that a move has been made, and at their convenience they could open the game on their end, see my move, then make theirs. I in turn would be notified of their move, and whether it be hours, days or weeks later, could then open the game and make my next move.

Forget BB10, I've recently got quite into the games available for BB at the moment - some of them are great! Draky and the Twilight Castle and Braincube Reloaded particularly - awesome!

If the pictured playbook is Adam zeis' playbook, it looks to have pirated angry birds seasons and Rio.
The picture shows today's date, but badly outdated versions of the aforementioned games. The only way that happens, is, if they are pirated games and thus unable to update them.
Shame shame.

One should never assume.

As it stands, RIM has no way of allowing review copies of games to be sent out for the PlayBook unless developers add users to their App World sandbox which, for some is a hassle.

In those instances, we often get .BAR files sent for review and as such, those apps don't update to the latest version through BlackBerry App Worl. So alas, your mention of "the only way that happens" is not exactly correct.

Plus I know Adam isn't overly fond of the tired Angry Birds games so he has no reason to purchase the updated versions. Flinging birds is only fun for so long, lol.

"Companies like Gameloft, Square Enix and others already have plans to bring many of their titles to BlackBerry, so we'll continue to see them become available in the coming months."

Where was it announced that Square Enix said they have plans to bring "many" of their titles to the Blackberry?I know that rumors have been circulating that 1or 2 games were in the process of coming our way but I haven't seen the word "many" used to describe what's in store for us.

As for gaming on the Playbook and BB10, I think it's brilliant and, quite frankly, about bloody time, that RIM woke up and recognized that the gaming market within mobile devices is influential and substantial - if they want to succeed in getting new consumers, they could not leave gaming out.

Now if RIM can bring out an OEM joypad - I'd be quite happy.

I'm hoping for bbm intergration for EVERYTHING. Not just messaging and status update but gaming and combining bbm music with bbm or at least along those ropes

I think Rim is planning to enable xbox wii etc controllers with games,if they werent why would they be promising devs bluetooth api's for just that?

Yes im very excited about the future of the platform.
Its looking better everyday and the excitement is building. One thing i am sad about is that gameloft didnt say anything about modern combat 3 being one of the new 11 titles..but if nova 3 is as good s it looks i may not care :D

I'd rather see a split controller that attaches to both sides of the PlayBook. That would be awesome! Using existing PS/Wii/xbox would only be useful if your PlayBook was attached to a TV.

Totally Agree....I attach mine to the big screen all the time.....If playbook can put a gaming controller to it, along with Netflix, I would honestly throw everything else out. As it stands now, my PB is connected to the Big Screen so I can catch up on certain TV series, music videos. I also use my BB as a remote for doing spreadsheets and browsing the internet. What a great way to entertain friends. Hoping to stream TV and get rid of all the "Boxes so to speak"

I would love to win...because right now it would solve the frustration of a 12 year Blackberry user...and keep a loyal voice happy ! Thanks for the contest !

Also remember that Run in crowd came out on PLaybook first, then, ported to other devices. Hopefully this is the way things will go :o)

I love my Playbook and the gaming is very well done. I would like to see a decent Text to Speech (TTS) app that can read more than a couple of sentences. Let's say a speech of a couple pages or the text off a website in full like articles off Crackberry for example. That would solve the size issue for me and other somewhat visually impaired people. They made an app for the phone, why not the playbook. My phone can make voice calls if I can't read the texting. How bout we sort this out on the playbook.

I was hoping for something more than a play station when I purchased my playbook. While apps like skype and good utilities are left behind the unit is evolving into a fancy toy. That fancy toy will be left at home when travelling and replaced by my netbook.

Check out Isolation on the playbook for 3D. It is so realistic it almost makes you motion sick when you move, Kinda like watching a movie on a moving bus, It is awesome with 3D glasses, Gotta check it out for yourself.

Also check out the reviews on the upcoming Galaxies on Fire 2 3D HD. Awesome.

You're comparing gaming in iPhone to BB phones in general (OS 7.0 below). And yes.. the argument is plausible. iPhone games (especially the HD ones on iPhone 4/4S) is much nicer and greater experience than BB phone games.

But the article is about gaming in BB QNX devices (Playbook and future BB10 phones). And I think the gaming experience on Playbook/BB10 is as great as their Apple counterparts (iPad and iPhone).

Let's face facts here.....Are you seriously comparing a tiny screen Iphony with anything Blackberry....C'mon seriously....Get over yourself

99% of blackberries in the market have screens much smaller than the 3.5 inch iPhone.
Were you inebriated when you posted this comment?

The article refers to the Playbook and BB10 units. The Dev phone has a larger screen that the standard BB phone with a fixed QWERTY pad. Gaming on the current Playbook with the QNX platform is really sweet....and definitely going to be awesome going forward....

I love gaming on the Playbook.
And to think most of them (if not all) will be available to BB10.. making me excited!

It think RIM should focus on these 3 things on future BB10 device/Playbook:
1. Number #1 typing experience - for both Full touch screen and physical keyboard device. And looking by the presentation of BB10 Alpha keyboard... They're getting there
2. Social..Social..Social. People these days are crazy bout social apps. As owner of IOS, Android and Blackberry devices, I prefer using Blackberry those social purpose. BB has the BBM (and other social apps). But I haven't seen a native twitter app and BBM for Playbook (QNX) yet. Hopefully they'll be available on BB10. Next they need to get the popular ones too like Instagram, Path and Flipboard.
3. GAMING. Yep.. people like games. And more and more people use their phones as gaming device too. While playing games with Blackberry devices are not quite enjoyable on the OS 7.0 (or below) devices.. I think they're heading the right direction here with the use of QNX. Next step is by combining the BB Social (BBM) feats with the Gaming experince in the BB10 devices.

Back in 2007 we discovered a game for PC which was called ALPINE SKI RACING 2007. That game was the very best, real-like game we have ever saw for ski. It gave you a real feeling of skiing not like normal poor-developed ski games. Recently I bought a PlayBook and thought how fascinating would be to have available ALPINE SKI RACING for Playbook or at least a descent similar quality ski game for my favorite tablet. I think that RIM should make an effort to have that game available for PlayBook because its like the game was created for that platform! I mean the sense of making slalom (ski turns) turning left and right the playbook (just like Need for Speed) would be an amazing gaming experience and of course a huge commercial success which would certainly be good for RIM and PlayBook in general.

P.S I shared these thoughts with RIM'S Head of Gaming, Anders Jeppson but he didn't reply to me...

Thank you Adam for such a wonderful article. Loved reading it.
Some of the games already exists where they use BBM as platform and u can play with your friends. There are some cool games available for OS6/7 and may be previous versions also. To name a few I love are pong shot reloaded, battles on BBM, etc. The score recording is still not up to the mark but wonderful games to play with friends on BBM.
I can only imagine things getting better on BB10.
I hated touch screen phones All way through. BB10 might actual make me change this feeling.
Let's rock and roll this!!!!

It's why the PlayBook is appropriately named! :)

I'm curious about the statement made in the post: "Already they are making more on BlackBerry than on iOS and Android." Is that really so?

I hope there would be no lags, no breaking or hanging what so ever coz dats what the IOS users enjoy most, then & only then can I finally rub the BB10 prowess in their faces

1.) Would there be a personal Assistant on the QNX....scratch dat There MUST be a personal assistant(lyk siri) on the QNX. End of Story

I'm not going to say all the apps, but 95% of new apps in app world suckssss. I want RIM to successful, I own two bbp. Giving free playbook to developers, got you a whole lot of crap. Pinball is free on Android Market, and was $5 in app world. I don't know why more developers don't get on board. Yes we going to buy your app, and most likely over pay for it. We like crackheads out here, playbook is the pipe, and apps are the crack. We all want better crack. Thanks to the good people at Goodereader, I got most of the apps need and want.

I have purchased several apps for my Playbook, and they are aesthetically spot on and great to use. However I will not pay $5.00 for Angry Birds! I don't play the game, I am using it as an example. RIM has to sort out the mismatch of apps and games freely available on iOS and Android that are, for what they are, pretty expensive on Playbook. I also don't like the removal of any reference that an App is an Android port, I don't like using an app in a virtual environment. I would like to see developers urged to create Blackberry o.s. versions of their Android apps. If there was a reference to an App being a port I could make a decision about whether or not to download it. Not knowing is putting me off downloading anything.
Slightly off topic, I love the look of the BB10 Dev mobile phone, resembling a small Playbook with the gorgeous soft touch rear and squared edges. Simply a thing of beauty. If that becomes the actual device I would definitely swop my Google Nexus, no contest, purely on looks, it's a given the O.S. is going to be spot on. I hope. :-)