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May 22, 2008

N-Gage Games Locked to Single Device - This Can't Be Good

by Darla Mack

In an interesting article this morning by Tzer2 at AllAboutNgage, users were informed that purchased N-Gage games are not transferable to another device.  We multi-device users know exactly what this means... LOCKED!

This sounds harsh coming from Nokia, but is it really Nokia calling the shots, or the game developers.  In a quote, which I also find rather harsh, Nokia states:  "If you want your N-Gage games on your phone, you'll have to buy them all over again."  Humph... did they really say that!?

Tzer2 explains just how the purchase process works on the new platform.

"In case you're wondering what this is all about, here's a brief explanation of how the new N-Gage platform handles the sale of games:

  • To install an N-Gage game you download its demo onto your phone. This contains the entire game but in a restricted form where you can only access features in the demo.
  • If you enjoy the demo and want to buy the full game, you select the demo's "purchase" option, and then choose to charge the cost of the game to your phone bill or credit card. When the transaction is complete, an activation code is sent to your e-mail address, which can be used to turn the demo into the full version."

I've never been a big fan of having anything locked to my IMEI number.  I'm sure the people at Lonely Cat Games have a list of my IMEI changes from the past.  I don't see this protecting the user in the case of a stolen or faulty device.  I'm sure something more simple can be applied in this situation, but why lock it to an IMEI number?  Isn't it true that if you purchase something it's yours?  I can't see how this is going to be productive.  I also can't see how Nokia couldn't make an easier solution.  Yes I know some protection rules should be in place but let's be real here... if users want the games there is nothing stopping them from going through other channels.  But this wouldn't help anyone at all.

I have to agree with the statement and further state that if Nokia's Music store can make it possible for multi-device usage (somewhat), why not N-Gage?  They've moved from a gaming device to a platform, yes.  But back then you purchased your game and played it on however many tacos (I say that affectionately) you had!  Simple.

Read the full article here.

via: AllAboutSymbian


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Don't you just love the internet? It didn't take long for the N-Gage news story to circulate, but fortunately it got to the right area. According to today's article in PCWorld it looks like N-Gage users will be able to [Read More]



Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to defend Nokia but I just can't realize why you are so much surprised about?!

It is expectable, every damn thing out there is locked to certain IMEI, you can like or don’t like but that’s the reality!? 99% of the available software, applications and games for mobile phones are IMEI protected and aimed to work on the one mobile phone only and if you want to get it to work on another phone you’ll have to buy it gain.

For example it is the same with Maps or any other application that is not freeware no matter dose it comes from Nokia or 3rd party developers so I ma just curious are you really expected that platform on which they spent few years and million of dollars will not be locked to certain IMEI?!

To be completely honest with you I knew it will be like this, I am not surprised. Sure it will be great if the platform is free completely and if they’ll offer some devices with games in package like they are going to do with comes with music but it is not the case and that’s it.

N-Gage is commercial thing that is aimed to make lot of money for Nokia and whole gaming industry and they’ll newer change the rule that one license is valid for one device only.




Respectfully, no.

I do not buy many programs for my phone, but the ones I have bought, I can transfer to other phones.

For example, I bought IM+ a while ago. During a firmware update, it was lost, so I redownloaded, input by license code, and voila. It worked. If I buy a new device, I uninstall IM+ from my old device, install it on my new one, input the license code, and again, voila. Easy as cake.

Nokia can definitely have a similar scheme--and with an NGage profile, this is made even easier and more secure from Nokia's side of things.


Frankly there is no possible argument on Nokia's part for this being the case.

I fully understand their need to protect assets, copyrights etc. etc. but to lock to a single IMEI when they do nothing but ensure that you change your phone and hence IMEI as often as possible is simply disgusting and abusing consumers yet again.

If they really wanted to do this properly then they could have developed a proper secure licensing system for the games on N-Gage. With such a system they could lock games to a specific IMEI but allow users to change this (via a SMS to the device, via the N-Gage interface itself etc.) when they upgrade their phones.

At such times the N-Gage interface could then validate the new IMEI, erase the old one and download a new set of licence files. The only possible hitch in this is leaving the software on the old phone and just not going online to have it deactivated, but even this could be resolved by insisting that the old phone is connected to the net to deactivate it, obtain a code to put into the new phone to initiate the transfer to it.

This model has been successfully worked for music files on various platforms and there’s absolutely no reason it could not have been done by Nokia for N-Gage games. It is conceivably down to laziness but I suspect, as is the bent of any modern capitalist company, that it is more likely to be pure avarice on Nokia’s part.


"Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to defend Nokia but I just can't realize why you are so much surprised about?!"

If you actually read the article there are many many many things to be surprised about regarding this policy. Try going to the list of ten reasons within the article, it sums up everything that's directly damaging about this policy not just for consumers but for Nokia and third party publishers too.

The type of DRM Nokia are using for games harms phone sales and harms game sales, which are the two things N-Gage is supposed to be promoting. This isn't a case of a greedy company, this is a case of a stupid company, it's harming itself even more than its customers.

Here's how:

-Someone buys lots of N-Gage games, then finds they're locked to one phone forever. That's going to put them off buying a new phone, especially if they've spent hundreds on the games, so this policy is actually going to reduce Nokia's phone sales.

-Someone buys new Nokia phones very often, then finds out N-Gage games are locked to one phone forever. That's going to put them off ever buying N-Gage games because they know they won't be able to play them for very long, so this policy is actually going to reduce N-Gage's game sales too.

The problem isn't IMEI-locking in itself, it's the way that the games are permanently locked to one IMEI for eternity.

If there was some method to change the IMEI the games are locked to when you move to a new phone, then there wouldn't be all this contoversy, because that would allow you to transfer your games to the new phone without harming the anti-piracy measures.

If Nokia carry on with this policy, they will actually be creating a massive demand for pirated N-Gage games, even from people who don't normally use pirated material.

Pirating a game instead of paying for it is clearly wrong in most people's eyes, but pirating exactly the same game you already HAVE paid for... well is that wrong? It might be a crime legally, but very few people would say it was wrong morally.

And would Nokia or one of the third party publishers really take someone to court for using a pirate copy of a game they'd already bought?

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