Farewell N-Gage - Nokia to shutter gaming service

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In a low key announcement, via the N-Gage blog, comes the news that Nokia plans to shutter its N-Gage gaming service. Nokia say they will 'no longer publish new games for the N-Gage platform'; instead games will be provided via its Ovi Store service. Current N-Gage games can be purchased until September 2010 and the N-Gage website and Arena service (online elements) will be available throughout 2010.

The closure of the N-Gage service is a blow to Nokia's service ambitions. However it is also fair to say that N-Gage really pre-dated the Ovi strategy. As a result, in both vision and execution, it did not fit fully fit into the Ovi service portfolio, especially after the launch of Ovi Store earlier this year.

Clearly Nokia will look to push its gaming strategy forward under the Ovi Store umbrella, but it is a long way from both dedicated gaming unit (N-Gage first generation) and a gaming focused platform and community (N-Gage second generation). N-Gage was never able to move beyond a niche community. Its ease of distribution advantages has been overtaken by the rise of App Stores; similarly online service elements are now relatively common. Furthermore the lack of graphic acceleration hardware in recent Nokia S60 phones have left N-Gage games looking lacklustre, in eye-candy terms, when compared to the iPhone and other mobile gaming platforms.

Key points

  • Nokia will no longer publish new games via the N-Gage service. Instead games will be made available via the Ovi Store. Nokia term this an 'evolution of their mobile gaming service', but there's no getting away from the fact that represents a failure of the N-Gage service.
  • N-Gage games can be purchased until September 2010. Other parts of the N-Gage service, including N-Gage Arena, will be availale throughout 2010.
  • The N-Gage application will continue to ship on some older devices. However new devices will not ship with the N-Gage application.
  • All current N-Gage will continue to work. The online (Arena) elements will continue to work throughout 2010. However, subsequently, the online elements of N-Gage games will no longer work.
  • Nokia's future gaming strategy will be based on Ovi Store distribution.

    Nokia are 'actively working on offering more community elements through Ovi' and will 'encourage developers to use community features in their applications'. This suggests Nokia will, in the future, offer common community / online elements, perhaps based on N-Gage technology, to developers publishing their games through the Ovi Store.

More details and comment shortly.

Further information, including a list of frequently asked questions, is available on the N-Gage blog.