Build Once Deploy Everywhere But BlackBerry

Over the past few years, I have been actively developing games (and app prototypes) with Unity.  For those who don’t know, Unity is probably the most used game engine by Indie developers. While using Unity, I have been seeing two version number increases over the past years, from 3.x to 5.x. Over all the years, Unity has been adding more and more platforms to its range, including BlackBerry 10.

Unity Platforms Many Games that you can download in BlackBerry App World today are made with Unity, including some of the most popular games like Breakfast Saga by Marco Gallo or even the big name Gameloft ones.

With the jump to Unity 5, a lot changed regarding to the licensing. The Free version of Unity got a lot more powerful, whereas the paid one still exists. At a base price of USD$1.5k, not exactly in the gift price range. Now fortunately, the Pro version includes the BlackBerry add-on, and it doesn’t need to be purchased additionally like the iOS or Android plugin for USD$1.5k each.

Unity Add OnsSo why am I telling you this?
Well shortly after introducing 5.1.x, Unity announced dropping BlackBerry support at version 5.2.

“We wanted to advise developers that, due to a lack of developer interest, Unity will no longer be supporting the BlackBerry 10 platform. Unity will discontinue support for this platform from Unity 5.2 onwards.

We will continue to support the few developers who have built or ported games to this platform on older versions of Unity up until the beginning September 2015.”

-Aurore, Community Manager at Unity Technologies

This means, when reaching 5.2, Unity developers can either no longer upgrade their version or drop BlackBerry development. Now, imagine you bought Unity Pro and your main platform is BlackBerry, well you just spent 1500 bucks and you get dropped only after a couple of month of Unity 5.x being released. Not only that, Unity is still advertising with the BlackBerry platform, maybe leading even more users to buy the pro version and being dropped right away!

One could argue Unity 5.1.x is a decent and stable build, leaving us with a good version to continue supporting BlackBerry. Not true exactly I´d say. As of now, it is far from perfect. Apart from the weirdly squeezed Unity logo on the Passport, the grey screen always visible at startup on every device, the OpenGL problems and the random crashes on specific versions of the Z10, all the non-platform specific bugs apply too. Now, the developers of Unity told us that they will try to fix as many problems on BlackBerry as possible until 5.2 but this is still not a satisfying situation.

After personally contacting the Business Development Manager of Unity, I was treated pretty welcoming and he told me that they were doing their very best to get it all up correctly.

Now, I don’t want to make Unity responsible for this. I understand that the user base of BlackBerry developers might be smaller than the rest, and that keeping the platform alive would cost probably more than it would bring in. With BlackBerry repeating over and over again that their main focus is Business, they probably play a good role in Unity’s decision as well.

A lot of BlackBerry developers outed their sales numbers to somehow make Unity change their mind, but unfortunately it didn’t help. Their decision is final and cannot be changed…

So what does this all mean?
The big players will probably drop BlackBerry immediately. I cannot imagine them maintaining two versions of their games, especially for such a small platform as ours. This is unfortunately a sad, but probably true statement of mine…