Magmic's Troy Johnson on how BlackBerry's share is growing, not shrinking, and why HTML5 is a false prophet

Teaching the old dog new tricks

Magmic's Troy Johnson on how BlackBerry's share is growing, not shrinking, and why HTML5 is a false prophet
Like a struggling sports giant sitting at the bottom of the table mid-way through a desperately dire season, it's been a hard 12 months for RIM.

BlackBerry, once the first port of call for anyone after a smartphone, is now regarded by many as archaic, second only to Symbian in terms of relevance – or, rather, lack of it.

You might expect, therefore, developers tied to RIM's platforms to be depressed. Not so Magmic Games.

Indeed, director of portfolio management at the studio Troy Johnson believes talk of BlackBerry's demise has jumped the gun.

We caught up with Johnson for his take on life with BlackBerry, and why there's more to supporting developers than simply making a platform easy to work with.

Pocket Gamer: From a developer's perspective, how has BlackBerry 10 been to work with?

Troy Johnson: To-date, Magmic hasn't produced any commercial products using the QNX/BlackBerry 10 platform.

We have been evaluating the platform for several months and do plan bring our top brands to PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 handsets in the coming year.

If RIM is to entice more developers like yourself on board, what changes should it make?

There's always a lot of risk in developing applications for a new platform. When we tackle any new platform we have to consider the opportunity cost.

Making the development process easy is a good start, but helping by providing funding is often as important. It reduces the risk of diverting resources away from more certain revenue streams which sustain our growth.

BlackBerry has been losing market share throughout 2011, especially in the US. In your experience, is this having an impact on game downloads?

No. I believe the overall growth in the BlackBerry market has compensated for losses in North American market share and the success we are seeing with Texas Hold'em King Live backs that up.

RIM recently added HTML5 support to BlackBerry's browser. Is this a potential route in for third party developers?

We don't see HTML5 offering the performance required to deliver the use experience we want to present - particularly on our top tier products. I suspect more developers are in the same boat.

It might work for some products but I don't think we'll see widespread adoption of the technology in 2012.

You've previously told us the platform's development tools have remained stagnant for many years. Have things improved on this score at all of late?

Yes. The QNX platform and its development tools show a great deal of promise. We've very optimistic about it.

If BlackBerry continues to shed share, what will this do to developers tied to the platform?

It will no doubt bring new challenges but we've come to expect change. If you've worked in mobile for more than two years you know nothing about it is static.

We'd have to explore new ideas, price points and monetisation and marketing strategies. New platforms would also be part of that.
Thanks to Troy for his time.

You can find out more about Magmic on the studio's website.

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