Nokia's N-Gage range was a noble first attempt by a mobile phone manufacturer to make dedicated gaming phones. But there simply wasn't a big enough customer demand to lift it off the ground. Unfortunately, this marked the end for N-Gage handsets and they were taken off the production line.
It was a sad time for gaming phones and an even sadder time for anyone hoping that Nokia might make a PSP-style mobile that would unite gaming and phoning into a single compact handset.
However, N-Gage isn't completely washed up. It's being resurrected as a gaming platform for smart phones. The logic is that many of us will own a Nokia smart phone in the next couple of years, so we might as well play N-Gage games on them.
The N-Gage software will be pre-programmed into the smart phones and will allow users to buy and download games or play games from MMC cards. Nokia promises that it will also allow you to interact with games and other players "in new and exciting ways". We can't wait. No, really.
One niggle with this concept is the logistical problem of creating and supporting products for this relatively small games plaform. Gaming experts foresee that game developers won’t have enough time to support N-Gage -- which is where we came in.
With reports that the Nintendo DS Lite will be launched in the UK soon, and rumours of a new PSP and possibly a Microsoft portable Xbox coming later this year, Nokia will face grown-up competition. Investing resources into a concept that has already dramatically flopped, at a time when dedicated game console manufacturers are gearing up for next-generation games console is... interesting. Watch this space for further updates. -AL