He’s attending the BlackBerry 10 launch party in Toronto as a member of RIM’s elite strategic partner program and showing off the seven different Magmic Games apps that users can download onto their new phones.
“We’ve been thinking about this platform for almost two years,” said Mr. Johnson. The local gaming company wanted to ensure it had as much content as possible prepared for Blackberry World on the day of the launch.
Part of that is because of the press coverage that comes alongside a major launch, Mr. Johnson said, but part of it runs deeper than that.
“Because (RIM) is a Canadian company, and because we’re a Canadian company and we’ve seen a lot of success through that channel, it’s easy to support them,” he said.
Magmic is just one Ottawa tech firm that will be closely following the launch of the long-awaited devices, which are powered by software developed by locally based QNX.
“BlackBerry and RIM are betting their future on QNX here in Ottawa,” Fred Boulanger, CEO and co-founder of Gatineau software firm Macadamian Technologies Inc., said in an earlier interview. Mr. Boulanger’s own firm is also heavily invested in developing BB10 apps for its clients.
Magmic’s Mr. Johnson said Research in Motion has come a long way in its treatment of developers over the years. Previously, companies had to pay membership fees to become part of the BlackBerry development community, called its ISV Alliance Members.
Now, those fees are gone and RIM will pay developers $10,000 if their app makes more than $1,000 on its app marketplace.
It comes from a recognition that consumer apps are critical for the success of entertainment products, Mr. Johnson said.
“In terms of the mindset from the leadership at RIM, that’s a huge cultural shift,” he said. “They thought that people would be willing to pay money to bring apps to their user base. Now, they’re actually paying us more than we would have paid to be part of that program.”
Support from RIM also included free prototype devices that developers could experiment on while creating apps for the new platform.
“When you have a bunch of technically minded people creating product for a platform, nothing draws excitement like putting a piece of hardware in their hands that they can actually experience,” Mr. Johnson said.
The seven games that users can download from Magmic Games onto their BB10 devices include its popular card game called Phase 10. It will have increased capability compared to its counterparts on the Apple App Store and Google Play store.
RIM’s new technology allows for an entirely different user experience, Mr. Johnson said, that will be even more interactive than on other platforms.
“You’re not just going to play card games anymore, you’re going to play card games with people you want to play with – not with strangers,” Mr. Johnson said. “That’s a really cool thing.”
He projects that about 30 per cent of BlackBerry users will switch to the new device relatively quickly, and about 70 per cent of the user base will go to the new platform over time – “whenever their contract runs out, whenever their device falls into a toilet,” he said.
After Mr. Johnson returns from his trip to Toronto for the launch party, he will be heading to Amsterdam with RIM as one of its elite developer partners. Magmic Games also presented at multiple Dev Jam sessions in various cities while BB10 was being developed.
Mr. Johnson said he’s confident that RIM’s new platform will do well.
“If they deliver on the platform the way they’ve delivered on their commitment to the developers, it’s going to be a huge success,” he said.