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The future of mobile gaming

By Charles March
Posted Sunday, December 5, 2004

Nokia recently released their long awaited N-Gage, putting it head to head with existing devices such as Nintendo's GameBoy Advance, a product that has sold over one hunderd million units and has a huge stock of available games.

In contrast the N-Gage launches with a handful of games, none of which are original, most of which are based on formats that are several years old.

When the GameBoy was originally launched it game with a 'killer application' - Tetris. People bought the device because they wanted to play Tetris. When Sega launched their Mega Drive it came with Sonic. There is no such game bundled with, or available for, the N-Gage.

So does it have a 'Killer Application'; a reason why you and I will buy this device over a GameBoy, or the mobile PlayStation in development by Sony?

We see two possibilities; Firstly Nokia are counting on the fact that users will not want to carry a phone and a games machine. There is a lot of logic in this argument. We like playing games on our phones and to date these have been lacking. Compared to other mobile phones, the N-Gage is streets ahead of the competition.

It has to be said that the designers seems to have struggled getting a phone into a games machine (or a phone into a games console.) Having to turn the device on it's side to make a call is unique to say the least, but this is probably a small issue, if you can play Tomb Raider while you are waiting for that call.

The second potential Killer App is the wireless connectivity built into the device. The ability to compete against other N-Gagers over Bluetooth, so avoiding paying connection charges puts the N-Gage ahead of the competition. Other consoles have Bluetooth add-ons in development or are being developed to include wireless connectivity, the Zodiac being a case in point. Nokia have the advantage of being the first into the market. Whether this lead time will be enough to make the N-Gage a market leader is yet to be seen. It should give developers time to work on new games and maybe give Nokia a foot hold in the market.

Read more about the new N-Gage at (

Copyright 2003 C March - (

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