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October 30, 2009

Nokia Says "Game Over" To N-Gage Platform, Closing in 2010

by Ernest Doku

Nokia has reportedly inserted their last credit into the N-Gage mobile games service, announcing plans to shut it down in 2010 and focus on promotion of titles through Ovi Store.

The service's demise marks the end of 6 years of Nokia trying to penetrate the lucrative gaming arena since the original N-Gage device in 2003.

Despite producing a more aesthetically pleasing hardware sequel in the form of the N-Gage QD, then resurrecting the brand as a software-only platform for specific handsets at the end of 2008, Nokia's service never managed to garner traction in a competitive mobile market.

The latest N-Gage blog post definitively states the future of the platform, and the form it will take:

"N-Gage games can be purchased until the end of September 2010. While the N-Gage.com site together with the N-Gage Arena and other community features will remain in operation throughout 2010, the Ovi Store will be the new central place for all the mobile games that Nokia and other publishers offer from this point forward."

A bittersweet message follows, spelling out the fate for the online portion of N-Gage games:

"Your games are safe - all your purchased N-Gage games will continue to work on your N-Gage compatible mobile device and they’re yours to keep. However, community features of the games will not be functional after 2010....We will no longer publish new games for the N-Gage platform."

The rest of the post takes the form of a big arrow pointing users in the direction of Ovi Store, a robust and fully featured app resource that is pre-installed in many Series 60 devices, and will be on S40 phones out of the box in future.

A widely proliferated application store works - ask Apple - but the splitting of the demographic with only some phones supporting the N-Gage platform was a notable problem, particularly when hugely popular ones like the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic were not among them.

Not appearing on Nokia touch phones which had no physical keys or d-pad only served to narrow the appeal of N-Gage to N- and E-series phone owners, as UK developments like the iPhone on Orange only serve to bring applications to a wider demographic.

The cannibalisation of games between N-Gage and the Ovi Store was already taking place with titles appearing in both, that's without mentioning the unnecessary confusion it brings to customers.

Ovi Store tailors content for compatible phones, meaning Nokia owners are able to see only the apps that their phone supports, with a range of music, games and productivity applications available from a single location.

The recent influx of N-Gage titles suddenly begins to make much more sense, as Nokia are presumably shifting the elite developers over to the Ovi Store before they become swayed by the lucrative charms of their competition...

N-Gage was arguably the best mobile gaming network, supporting online multiplayer, achievements, leaderboards, persistent stats, as well as downloadable content directly to devices.

The fact that Nokia managed to develop a leading online service whilst Microsoft did not even attempt to bring their Xbox Live service to Windows phones (despite numerous allusions to doing so) makes N-Gage's demise even more disappointing.

N-Gage may live on within the Ovi Store, but we will dearly miss the 'Taco phone' and all that she spawned.


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This phone seemed to be made especially for games, I like to play games in this phone.It is very funny and interesting

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