Nokia announces plans for gaming platform

Nokia continues to push its gaming platform N-Gage, announcing new games at the Nokia Games Summit in Rome on Wednesday.

Nokia continues to push its gaming platform N-Gage, announcing new games at the Nokia Games Summit in Rome on Wednesday. More games and mobile phones with embedded support for the platform are needed for the N-Gage to become a success, according to analysts.

So far N-Gage, which was launched in April, hasn't had much traction. It hasn't been picked up as much as it could have been in the months since the launch, according to Tuong Nguyen, principal analyst at Gartner.

Nokia isn't releasing any information on how many games have been purchased, but 400,000 users have created personal profiles on the N-Gage Arena, at the same time tens of millions of N-Gage compatible devices have been sold, according to Nokia.

It's too soon to start calling it a failure and that is partly because Nokia has been taking is slow. "It has been a fairly quiet launch," said Nguyen.

But Nokia has now started to take steps that it hopes will increase the popularity of N-Gage. "From the N96 and forward all new N-Gage capable phones will have N-Gage preinstalled, instead of users having to download and install the application themselves," said Christophe Joyau, who is responsible for services at Nokia in Scandinavia.

So far the N96, N85 and N79 come with preinstalled support for N-Gage. To lure users, Nokia is also bundling phones with games, either full or trial versions, according to Joyau.

Integrating N-Gage will help the uptake of the platform because finding and installing the application is too difficult for the average user, according to Nguyen.

For the N-Gage to become a success, Nokia has to integrate it on more devices. "Once it has done that it can start to attack the market and become more aggressive," said Paolo Pescatore, an analyst at CCS Insight.

Nokia also has to increase the number of games users can choose between, according to Pescatore, because in the end the quality of the games and the number of games will decide if N-Gage becomes a success or not.

EA Mobile, a division of Electronic Arts, continues to back the platform. Big titles available in time for the winter holiday season include "FIFA 09," "Spore Origins" and "Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition."

"Need For Speed Undercover," "Tiger Woods PGA Tour" and "The Sims 3" will arrive in 2009. "Tomb Raider: Underworld" and "Pandemonium" from Eidos are also on the way in the next 12 months, EA Mobile announced at the Nokia Games Summit.

"Dance Fabulous" from Nokia Games Publishing, which will ship next year, will let users create dance moves on their own avatars.

Also announced was "Real Football 2009" and "Asphalt 4: Elite Racing" by Gameloft, which will let users choose between 28 cars and bikes, including the Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari F430 Spider, Nissan GT-R and Ducati 1098, according to Nokia.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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