Interview

Devs on BB10: BlackBerry now 'serious competition' for iPhone, says Paw Print Games

Devs on BB10: BlackBerry now 'serious competition' for iPhone, says Paw Print Games
Can BlackBerry 10 take down iOS and Android. Indeed, should it even try?

In the wake of the new platform's unveiling by the rebranded BlackBerry, we decided to get in contact with some of its keenest backers – some who've been there before, and some newcomers – for their take on what BB10 brings to the table.

Next up, we spoke to Antony White - co-founder of UK indie Paw Print Games - who thinks BlackBerry could seriously give Apple a run for its money.

Pocket Gamer: Generally speaking, what did you make of the BlackBerry 10 unveiling?

Antony White: I was pleasantly surprised.

The BlackBerry 10 platform is nice to develop for, the hardware is nice. However, I have been asking myself why would anyone buy it over the plethora of other mobile devices currently available.

When they unveiled the BlackBerry 10, I felt it was more about the software platform than the hardware.

Yes, they gave an overview of the hardware and I liked the attention to detail with the strength of the cover, enhanced grip and high build quality, but I felt the presentation by Vivek [Bhardwaj, head of software portfolio] of BlackBerry Flow, the software keyboard and hub presented some very neat features that a lot of users would be able to genuinely see themselves making use of.

There were various moments were the audience clapped and it was very much a genuine clap, not just an acknowledgement.

Like when the software keyboard was demonstrated and it managed to decode long, mis-spelt sentences without spaces in - a lot of people can relate to doing exactly this and their phone not being able to auto-correct - or the ability to flick select predicted words.

Are you working on the platform, and if so, why?

Paw Print Games is a platform agnostic studio, we develop games that work on most devices currently available including BlackBerry 10, PlayBook, iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, MacOSX, and more.

BlackBerry has provided a very decent software development kit, a large amount of libraries and have support from the major middleware vendors. Getting software onto the platform takes so little time it is hard to imagine why any studio would not target the platform.

Porting our full engine - and therefore all of our games - onto the PlayBook took about one day, the only feature that was missing was the social side, like leaderboards and achievements.

We then went onto integrate with Scoreloop to add these features and this took another day - and also meant adding Android support for Scoreloop was relatively trivial.

Once we had our games working on PlayBook, we simply compiled against the BB10 SDK, packaged up high resolution assets - for the 1280x768 screen - and we were up and running.

How do you think it compares to the likes of iOS, Android and WP8 from a consumer perspective?

I wouldn't call myself a 'fan boy' of any of smartphone manufacturer, but when the possibility arose to self publish cool games to a large market I jumped on board and armed myself with an iPhone from day one.

I have had an iPhone ever since - I like it and find it does most of the things I want to do very well. I have never found Android to offer a complete experience - although from what I have seen of the latest generation, with the likes of the Galaxy S III, things are looking up.

My Windows Phone 8 experience has been pleasant if somewhat limited; the interface always feels slick and responsive, but after seeing the BlackBerry 10 interface features I can't help but feel BlackBerry has had a lot more thought to make it very finger - or thumb - friendly.

I am due to receive a BlackBerry 10 retail device soon, and plan to use it for a couple of months solid. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't consider it to be serious competition to my iPhone.

One of the main reasons I will be doing this is to experience the BlackBerry HUB.

I think it is easy for people to dismiss this feature as oh, it's Facebook, Twitter, Mail but the fact it is all rolled into one place, means less chopping and changing between apps which sounds great for productivity.

BlackBerry made much of the 70,000 apps it has ready to go from day one, though many it showcased appeared to be ports from iOS. Why would consumers want to switch formats to play with apps they already have on their existing handset?

I don't think consumers will switch to BlackBerry in order to use ports of existing software, as you suggest, this makes little to no sense.

However, a number of applications have been deeply integrated with the BlackBerry 10 flow, allowing dialogs to be stacked, the ability to peak at previous pages, integration to talk to other applications and so on.

If applications start making more use of the BBM features - voice over BBM for example - you can start to get some very good user experiences, consistent across applications.

As a games developer, there are some other nice BlackBerry 10 additions, like the ability to control games using a WiiMote, PS3 controller, etc.

I feel like this is bridging the gap between mobile gaming and console gaming. No fancy boxes/connectors required, plug a HDMI lead into the BB10, pair with your controller and enjoy games on your big screen.

Ideally I'd like to see them release a joypad and some AirPlay style tech right out of the box so every consumer that buys there phone has everything to game in the living room too!

What's BB10 like to develop for? Has BlackBerry been easy to work with?

A few days work to get three titles onto both PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 is a testament to the ease to transition to the platform.

If any developer is to spend a number of months developing a game for a platform then it makes sense, whether you're either a big player or even a small indie studio to develop your tools or work with off the shelf solutions to allow you to make the transition with ease and open up as many revenue streams as possible.

Many see 2013 as playing home to a race for third place between BB10 and WP8. Who will come out on top?

I personally know far more people who will buy a BlackBerry 10 device over a Windows Phone 8 device before the year is out.

So based on that my answer would have to be BlackBerry.
Thanks to Antony for his time.


With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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Antony White Paw Print Games
serious competition to "my" iPhone
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