When Research In Motion now known as BlackBerry are brought into a conversation the first thing that comes to mind is not gaming. The so-dubbed “crackberry” got its name from how extensively social networking can take over a mobile device but not about how fun they were to play games on. BlackBerry’s new launch model appears to depend heavily on good software for their new interface and apps to drive sales of their mobiles, in many spheres that doesn’t just mean social and enterprise apps, it means mobile gaming.
So when the new devices came out from BlackBerry sporting shiny new interfaces and new models such as the Z10 and the Q10 with the faster BB10 operating system we got to wondering: how will gamers feel about them?
Analysts already feel like the device is too-little too-late when it comes to the touch-screen market. Wikibon networking guru Stu Miniman himself went as far as calling the interface a “dinosaur” recently, and that certainly doesn’t bode well for any games ported to the device.
Gameloft and EA join BB10 to bring games to BlackBerry mobile
It looks like the first gaming company to step up to the plate is GameLoft unveiling 11 games for the system from their library. Slashgear lists them as including UNO, N.O.V.A. 3: Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance, Shark Dash, Oregon Trail American Settler, Ice Age Village, Real Soccer 2013, and Six Guns.
No doubt, people with any memory of PC gaming will enjoy Oregon Trail (and dying of dysentery on their mobile device) but for the more modern audience what might catch their attention is games such as Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour—a modern shooter that is available already across many platforms—as well as The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises, two more top-tier games based on iconic series as well as recent movies.
When it comes to gaming, Gameloft is no slouch and BB10 will benefit greatly from these titles, but looking at the line up of other already-well-established mobile devices on the market (many not designed for gaming) it’s unlikely that BB10 will make its bones with gamers based on this software line up. Strong gamers will gravitate towards devices like the PS Vita or just buy into a Windows 8 Mobile device.
EA has long been looking towards BB10 since last June, but there’s been some questions if they’d make it to market with games for the device on launch. So far, all we have confirmed from them are sports titles such as MLB at Bat 2013 available at-launch.
Of course, no mobile gaming platform would be complete without Angry Birds—which it has available—and since BB10 has a focus on HTML5 that means that numerous apps that run on that as a platform will easily appear on its touchscreen surface.
Market analysts not keen on BB10’s Staying Power in Gaming
In line with Miniman’s statement about the new BlackBerry line-up being out-of-date and terribly late to market, VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi comes right out and quotes experts that the new BlackBerry isn’t a safe bet for game producers to hawk their wares unless its part of a larger strategy to enter the market—BB10 certainly looks like they’ve gone business-first and gamers-second.
BlackBerry is late again, compared to the launch of another challenge, Microsoft’s Windows 8, which got started in the market last fall. Game developers and publishers aren’t lacking for yet another mobile contender. They didn’t make unique content for the PlayBook, and it isn’t clear to me why many game developers would make unique content for the BlackBerry now.
Even for outfits such as GameLoft and EA, BB10 and the new BlackBerry models are just new avenues to publish their games—and by coming on board they increase their range and sales opportunities—but the symbiosis largely ends there. For gaming, the BlackBerry right now would need them a lot more than they need BlackBerry.
For smaller outfits, especially indie game developers (who make up a huge section of the mobile app market), will want to look elsewhere for the bones to make their bread. More than likely, gamers on BB10 will look to well known brands for their games or comfort games that they’ve been playing for years rather than what’s new on the market.
The end prognosis is: BlackBerry has its fingers in the pie for gamers, but more as an afterthought. Their late-to-market approach will bring customers who already like BB back to their gates for the usual reasons (and its not gaming) and the gaming aspect of the device will be used to give their customers something to play with between business uses.
So, looking forward into 2013, I think we can readily say that BB10 and its devices will be seeing the table scraps from the mobile gaming scene and not be part of the vanguard.