Nokia to pull plug on N-Gage gaming platform

The cell-phone giant is directing gamers to its Ovi application store instead

Nokia has finally decided to kill off its N-Gage gaming platform after years of shifting the strategy behind it with little success.

Nokia introduced N-Gage in 2003 as a standalone handheld gaming device, which developed a small but enthusiastic following. Nokia later discontinued the device and instead came up with a plan to develop phones that would support the N-Gage platform. After a delay, it began introducing phones that could play N-Gage games in early 2008.

On Friday, Nokia posted a note at its N-Gage Web site informing users that the company would no longer publish new games for the platform, and that the N-Gage.com Web site and community aspects of the platform will be shut down at the end of 2010. Nokia will keep selling the existing games through September 2010.

Instead of N-Gage, Nokia wants customers who are interested in gaming to turn to its Ovi application store.

"As mobile gaming evolves and begins to encompass social gaming, we want to offer one store front with an even broader portfolio of games -- games for everyone. It's much more convenient to have one place to get all your mobile games, and this is what Ovi Store provides," it said.

Nokia hopes to add more community elements to the Ovi Store that might replace N-Gage Arena, a site where gamers could chat in a forum and post their high scores. "We are actively working on offering more community elements through Ovi," Nokia said.

Some N-Gage fans wrote of their dismay after hearing that the forum will be shut down. "A sad day indeed," a user going by the name nce007 wrote on the forum. That user and others seemed unimpressed with Ovi. "Ovi cannot replace N-Gage in my opinion," nce007 wrote.

"I just cannot believe that such a wonderful platform which had great potential is being phased away in such a manner to Ovi?" wrote another user who goes by apurvguptal.

Nokia has also been toying with the strategy behind Ovi since it launched last year. Ovi.com is a central site where people can find various services hosted by Nokia, including photo-sharing, e-mail, calendar and navigation services. Ovi.com now includes Nokia's new application store. But earlier this year, Nokia shut down a Seattle office that was developing an online sharing service, halted investment in the Ovi Share photo-sharing service and shut down Mosh, a social-networking site.

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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