At its Go Play event Nokia has announced that the N-Gage mobile gaming service will go live around the world in November (not live this week, as previously reported). The service is available as a free downloadable application to Nseries and S60 3rd Edition phones from www.n-gage.com, and will be embedded in a variety of phones in the future — including the N81 and N95 8Gb phones announced today. As well as playing games people will be able to connect with friends, challenge players around the world and participate in community activities in the N-Gage Arena. Nokia has the distribution right: Both the application and the games will be available both over-the-air and via PC, and people can store and sync games on their PC…so they don’t lose them when they upgrade. Nokia expects games to go for between 6-10 euros (US$8.17-US$13.62) excluding taxes and can be bought via credit card, or via operator billing in “over 20 countries”. The service will also offer daily and weekly game licences for a lower price, and all the games will be free to try before purchase. (release)
Update: The mobile games panel at Nokia’s event included the VP of publishing for Europe for EA Mobile, the head of games for O2, someone from Gameloft and the head of games at Nokia (I must apologise for not being able to get down the panelists details, they don’t seem to be written anywhere).
–O2 said that games were going up while some other content segments were going down. The carrier now has 1.3 to 1.4 million downloads across the UK every month, up from 1 million a year ago.
–O2 seemed quite happy to work with Nokia, and no-one asked about the spat with Orange. O2 also talked about utilizing their retail distribution to sell games when people buy handsets/mobile services.
–EA said that mobile games were a multi-billion dollar business, and they’d been running that business in an ecosystem that was never designed for gaming, he views the N-Gage service as an ecosystem. Gameloft added that “it’s good to have the number one mobile phone maker in the world pushing mobile games… It’s a good marketing push for the whole industry”.
–EA was asked what they were doing to make mobile games look like console games. “We don’t want mobile games to look like console games… We think the motivation behind the mobile space is different than in other platforms.” Also, the type of consumer is slightly different. He added things he would like to see from handset manufacturers: “We would like handset manufacturers to deliver a platform which we can develop great games and make the connectivity aspect of the ecosystem much more scaleable.” He seemed to think the connectivity wasn’t very good, which is ironic considering that one of the benefits of mobiles is that they’re “always connected”. Still, compared to the kind of connectivity you see on MMORPGs or the Xbox 360, he’s got a point.
Nokia demo’d some proof-of-concept games using mobile-specific features…PocketGamer has some details.