By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Nokia believes its recently launched N-Gage game-download service will be game changing.
The service, which competes with carriers' download services, is intended for users of N-series mobile phones around the world, including unlocked N-series "multimedia computer" phones sold in the United States. Compared to carriers' downloadable Java games, the N-Gage games deliver "stunning graphics and the capability of true 3-D experiences," the company said. The games "will be better and able to take advantage of the power these multimedia computers" and are "among the most ambitious graphically rich mobile games ever produced," the company added.
Depending on the game, some phones will let consumers play in either landscape or portrait mode, and some have other features that deliver a better game-play experience, Nokia said. The Nokia N81, for example, features dedicated games buttons, as will the N96 due in the third quarter. Some games will also enable multiplayer on-line gaming. And some games, particularly from Nokia Publishing, start to take advantage of N series phone features, such as motion sensing, an accelerometer, location-based services and the like. "This is something that Nokia is encouraging other games developers to take advantage of as well," a spokeswoman said.
All games can be downloaded over the air directly to the cellphone, or can be downloaded to a PC for side-loading to the phone.
Compatible phones available in the United States, all based on the Symbian Series 60 OS, are the N81, N81 8GB, N82, N95 and N95 8GB. They are available in Nokia flagship stores, wireless retailers and online stores, including Amazon.com, Walmart.com, LetsTalk.com, BestBuy.com, TigerDirect.com, Dell.com, Gateway.com and PCMall.com. N-Gage games, however, are only sold through Nokia's www.n-gage.com.
The service launched with six games, with seven more to follow "closely," the company said. All told, Nokia has announced the titles of more than 30 N-Gage made-for-mobile games that will be available for the service, which includes exclusive games and games from such game publishers as Electronic Arts and Gameloft. Nokia also produces games for the platform.
To play N-Gage games, users must first wirelessly download the free N-Gage application from www.n-gage.com. After a free trial of a downloaded game, consumers can buy the game outright or buy a license for a day of use at $2.99 or for a week at $6.99. Purchased games cost $9.49 to $13.49.
The N-Gage brand was first used several years ago on a game-playing cellphone made by Nokia and carried by Cingular and T-Mobile. Games were sold on memory cards and were available through carrier channels, etailers and Nokia online sites. Some game retailers also sold the games, including Gamestop, select Best Buy stores and Home Shopping Network, a spokeswoman said. The phone and its successor were later pulled from the market because of disappointing sales.
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