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Why Aren’t Indonesian Devs Building More Games on Blackberry?


Blackberry’s dominance in Indonesia is starting to falter, with Indonesians now more open to Android devices. RIM needs to start to worry about the Android threat, because given the amount of gaming and entertainment apps available on Google’s platform, it’s likely to lure many younger Blackberry users to switch. Android apps crossed the 700,000 mark last month, but Blackberry won’t even cross the 100,000 mark until next year.

Recently RIM has stepped up its efforts to convince developers worldwide to start building apps for Blackberry. You might have noticed campaigns like the Blackberry JamHack event, Blackberry’s generous ‘$10,000 developer commitment’ program, the Blackberry Got Game Port-a-Thon, and its #BB10Believe campaign. But why aren’t many developers building their apps or games on the Blackberry platform in the first place?

We talked to three Indonesian game developers Mintsphere, TouchTen, and Nightspade, as well as Malaysian game developer E1 Studio, who have all been approached by RIM and some of them were given Blackberry devices on which to test games. While Nightspade didn’t have much problem from a technical perspective, the other three argued the opposite. They agreed that building games for the Blackberry platform is a bit complicated. E1 Studio added that it is a challenge for them to build for Blackberry’s various form factors such as full touch and QWERTY handsets.

TouchTen had similar concerns. Most of the studio’s games use the Unity engine, which is easily deployed onto iOS and Android - but not Blackberry. This would mean that TouchTen would have to rewrite its code from scratch if they want to port games to Blackberry, which they deem not worth the effort.

In the end, it seems that another big reason for the lack of apps in the Blackberry OS is simply developers’ lack of trust in Blackberry’s market. All the game developers, including Nightspade this time, agreed that the Android or iOS app stores are more promising markets.

Why Build for Blackberry? Unfortunately, Angry Birds isn’t available on Blackberry 7 OS. (This is just a joke image, btw).

Mintsphere has previously built a game for Blackberry OS [1]. Its award winning game Trigger Knight is available on four platforms: Android, iOS, Symbian, and Blackbery 10. Wilson Tjandra, the co-founder of Mintsphere, explained three reasons for this.

First of all, they were supported by RIM. They were given a Blackberry device and were enticed with the $10,000 developer commitment program. Second, Trigger Knight is a relatively simple game, so it is easy to be made for both touch or non-touch devices. Third, the lack of gaming apps for Blackberry provided a better chance for the studio’s game to stand out. But in the end, Wilson said that building for the Blackberry OS is still not their main priority.

Nightspade argued that they might consider building for Blackberry OS if they can get further support from RIM - not only in terms of devices, but also in terms of licensing and promotional support. The game studio gives the example of how the Windows 8 team did just that for them. Nightspade also mentioned that RIM could benefit by emulating Nokia’s efforts to support young game developer startups in the country by holding more local developer-related events.

The four game developers we talked to above may or may not be a representative sample, but they may share similar views with other game devs out there who aren’t prioritizing Blackberry OS either. These opinions definitely do not bode well for RIM’s upcoming Blackberry 10 phones, which are set to be launched on January 30th next year.

[Picture source: Buzzfeed]

  1. The article was updated to note that Mintsphere isn’t the only developer mentioned here that has built a game for the Blackberry OS. Nightspade has built one too, called Taby the Little Mouse.  ↩