Games, they pass the time and fill in the cracks. In the last few years, with the processing and memory increases in mobile phones, casual gaming on-the-go has increased. Consumers love their Peggle and want to take it with them everywhere and BlackBerry users are no different. For proof, take a look at the BlackBerry App World Top Paid list, where over a third of the content are games. Here are a few ways RIM can help the BlackBerry gaming industry:
Fix The Payment System
It has been said before, but BlackBerry users shouldn’t have to rely on PayPal as the company has a tendency to freeze accounts. Also, gamers are impulsive and the platform should cater to conspicuous consumption. I love the Apple App Store’s One-Click buying. It’s seamless and has siphoned more than $25 out of my pockets in the last two months.
Get the Touchscreen Right
Time for a good capacitive touch screen. SurePress was a good idea as a response to user complaints that typing on a touchscreen was inefficient, but it just isn’t practical for gaming applications. If the iPhone is any indication of what to expect, well-done capacitive touch encourages innovation and more apps to boast about in your store. Top-sellers in the Apple App Store like Angry Birds or Crush the Castle would do great on the BlackBerry platform, but RIM have yet to make the platform appealing to these developers.
Deal with the Physical Keyboard
I know, I know, Blackberry die-hards love their physical keyboards, and I’m not about to suggest we do away with them, but if RIM wants to get back in the game, it needs to give its users more screen real estate. Squinting to see my characters is no way to play. For those who say physical typing is easier, the tiny keys and trackpad/ball on most Blackberrys (especially the 9700) are a big source of gaming frustration in games where the pressure is on (I’m looking at you Bejeweled).
The Blackberry Storm and Storm 2 are a good start. The new slider aims to give us the best of both worlds. Still, will developers now need to develop for both a touchscreen and a physical keyboard, further complicating control schemes. It’s important to finalize the BlackBerry touchscreen design, and let developers know that the doors are open to build games that will sell.
Here’s what RIM’s done right:
The app economy is there and doing relatively well. In February, we posted a report from app analytics company Distimo that said Blackberry games are among the highest-priced. While a typical game on the Apple App Store runs a little more than $2, an App World game goes for $4.60. The reasons for the price being higher could be attributed to higher development costs and a higher App World minimum. It would be good to see these prices come down by addressing the root causes of these high prices. Speaking of which, can any developers out there provide an estimate of what a Blackberry game costs to develop relative to the iPhone.
RIM has been surprisingly open. Though not completely deregulated (nudity in themes has been banned by RIM), RIM has done a good job letting market-demand rule, unlike Apple.
Multitasking makes games better. On an iPhone, I have to quit out of a game to check Twitter, but because my Blackberry supports background tasks, I can play Magmic’s Texas Hold ‘Em King 3 and keep my social media life up-to-date.
RIM is working on new APIs continually. Finally, RIM has taken one of its killer apps, BBM, and given developers the ability to potentially turn it into a gaming platform. If developers take advantage of these APIs, and RIM expands the platform’s capabilities, gaming on the Blackberry could take a huge turn for the better. Imagine BBM as your friends list a la Xbox Live. You would be able to see what games your friends are playing, invite them to play by clicking their names, all centralized in one app.
As RIM are under increasing pressure to cater to the consumer market, it will become more important for developers to be able to make compelling games, and consumers to be able to easily buy these games.