Research in Motion, the developer of the Blackberry line of smartphones, has announced that it has acquired Scoreloop, a mobile developer that provides software developer kits (SDKs) to companies that improve the backbones of mobile games. The company’s products add social features and in-app purchasing capabilities to games across the iOS and Android platforms. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by either side.
In a post on their developer blog, RIM had this to say:
Scoreloop is a pioneer in mobile social gaming and offers a customizable and cross-platform social mobile gaming developer tool kit. If you are not already familiar with them you can find out more about Scoreloop at http://www.scoreloop.com/.
We have recently enabled our developers to create social app experiences through our BBM™ Social Platform and have seen some very innovative applications result from that. We look forward to working with the team at Scoreloop to provide tools that will further enable our developer community to take gaming to a new level of social integration on the BlackBerry platform.
Some of the games that Scoreloop’s tools have been used on include the mobile versions of Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 and Spooky House Studio’s Doodle Train Pro.
According to GI.biz (reg required), their business class “PlayBook” tablet has sold well, but the figures have not equated to activity in their application store.
Analysis: Too little, too late for RIM. This is what I call a Microsoft Decision: “Wow, we really got caught with our pants down on this one. Let’s buy a company in the hopes that they’ll give us lightning in a bottle!”. Granted, Scoreloop isn’t, say, Skype, but the mindset is the same: we’ll acquire someone to help us catch up to the others.
It won’t work. Apple is far and away the leader in mobile gaming in North America, to the point where Android games often come out well behind their iOS counterparts. Furthermore, this new found focus is incompatible with their customer base, which is largely based around business. They’re trying to make up lost ground in the tablet market (where they’ll always be behind the iPad), and with more casual customers. Instead of this, they should be focusing on expanding into unfounded territory and pitching their tents there. As it is, this is a reactionary measure that won’t help nor hurt anyone. Similar SDKs for iOS and Android can be developed elsewhere, so the threat of locking down these SDKs to RIM is minimal.