BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has talked several times about BB 10 competing in other areas besides smartphones and tablets. We previously wrote that, with the upcoming BlackBerry docking stations, BlackBerry will be competing against Apple and Microsoft in desktop and laptop computers.
The fact that BlackBerry will be adding gamepad support to BB 10 has been on the developer roadmap for several months. However, besides the words “gamepad support”, there has not been any public description of what that actually involves – until today.
With gamepad support, BlackBerry 10 users can play a game on their smartphone using a physical gamepad instead of the virtual one on the touchscreen. This is particularly appealing to serious gamers, since physical gamepads are superior in several ways, including response time and tactile feedback. Currently, 3 types of gamepads are supported on BB 10. SteelSeries Free and Wii Remote are already supported in the 10.0 version of the NDK, while Gametel support will be added in 10.1 (the beta is available for download). It is almost certain that support for more gamepads will be added in the near future.
Consoles Face Risk of Being Disrupted by BlackBerry 10
At the PlayStation 4 announcement event yesterday, a common question was whether the console’s impressive specs can overcome the demographic shift, in which users are increasingly playing games on mobile devices. There is no doubt that a console is needed for hardcore gamers looking for the ultimate gaming experience. However, with a BlackBerry Z10, a user can save $200-$300 by not having to purchase a console and its associated accessories. It is likely inevitable that over time, BlackBerry will take market share from the likes of Nintendo WiiU and PlayStation Vita, and even consoles like the upcoming XBox 720 and PlayStation 4.
The timing of this development is very exciting, since the Ouya console is currently generating quite a bit of buzz, and even Nvidia is getting into gaming. In addition, this sort of gamepad support is another area where BlackBerry 10 is ahead of iOS 6 on the iPhone 5, since the latter does not offer support for physical gamepads.
Tutorials and sample code, which can be accessed here, is already available on Github for developers who would like to add this functionality to their apps. Additional information is on the BlackBerry Developer Blog.
How do you think gamepad support on BB 10 will play out (no pun intended)? Please let us know in the comments below.