Monday, January 31, 2005

N-Gage Revisted



This weekend, I almost succumbed to my lingering desire for a and bought one; however, I didn't -- I'm stuck to which one I should buy (plus, I don't really need another phone). The QD has better usability, looks better, but lacks Tri-Band (I couldn't use it in the States) capability ... if the QD would have been Tri-Band, too, I would have bought it long ago.

Anyway, I'm not a big gamer -- but I DO play games a few online games -- My father is a & maniac (Yes, my father, you heard right). I haven't paid for one of these games -- as they generally come out in the states before Europe, my father ships them out to me ... he calls me on Skype to play all of the time. As I said, while not a big gamer, it's fun to occassionally gut my father with a K-Bar or shoot him in the head -- we have a grand time taunting each other over as we play (Where are you you little shit he says....). When we're on the same team, we coordinate our attacks -- straight forward and good stuff -- opposite sides of the world, but in virutal space, right there duking it out with the best of them side by side ... Hold on, this is going somewhere ...

Back to the N-Gage -- the device has been knocked, but it's starting to get its due props because of games like Pathway to Glory and its online gaming capabilities. If I were the Marketing Director at N-Gage -- I'd go full throttle on online/multi-player gaming over GPRS/EDGE & Bluetooth (Ad-Hoc Gaming). This is where the device excels over other dedicated gaming consoles ... you won't catch me playing games at home against the computer, but put me against other humans -- be it silly games like Sumo Volleyball or Black Hawk Down, and I'm down to waste a few minutes of my valuable time -- Nokia, if you're listening .... there is your niche, your beachhead -- what are you waiting for ... ???

21 comments:

Bryan Rieger said...

I've got both models of N-Gage - the QD was bought in Aisa (I'm in Vancouver) and is only used for gaming and testing local apps/media because it isn't tri-band. I really prefer to QD as it's just a little better thought out and generally more usable - but it is aimed more at hard-core gamers, which is a big marketing mistake in my opinion.

Nokia's real strength with the N-Gage is definately GPRS/EDGE & Bluetooth gaming, social or play apps. Problem is the gaming market is the gaming market. The demographic isn't going to change drastically and there are already enough big name companies with way more cred than Nokia playing in it. Plus, it assumes your friends also buy into the N-Gage, otherwise you're usually playing alone regardless.

Also, people who might like a social/play device are not likely to even look at the N-Gage as it's marketed directly at gamers - the ones who expect PS2/XBox and PC like experiences on their devices. Imagine if there was an N-Gage equivalent to Flickr, Del.icio.us, 43 Things or StumbleUpon? Why does your mobile life have to be completely separate from the digital life you already have online?

Personally, I think targeting the N-Gage to casual gamers and people who are looking to do more with the mobile device using apps such as Mobiluck and AgileMessenger. While Pathway To Glory might be a great game for the N-Gage, it is only one. Personally, I find the SIMs about the best game I've played on the N-Gage. And when I'm looking for a little gaming action I'll turn on the laptop, PS2, GameCube or GBA before I reach for my N-Gage.

David Stennett said...

I'm in general agreement with you -- Nokia has been crazy trying to make the N-Gage go head-to-head with PPS, Gameboy, etc... targeting at causual gamers would probably be in their best interest; however, Nokia would be much better off doing this ONLY if they would have made N-Gage a platform (so you can play MMC Game cards on all Series 60 devices) ... by betting it all on the game console itself (a bad idea, really ... they're going down the road of Mac), they really limited themselves -- they could have this console for the most serious gamers, while pushing the platform itself -- that would have been their death blow to others, but instead, they're still climbing the mountain.

One thing that shouldn't be over looked with the N-Gage is that although it's a game console (first), it's still a Series 60 device, which means you can play the more and more powerful Symbian/Java games out there not only for the N-Gage, but for other Series 60 (or Symbian in general) devices -- which means your friends don't really need an N-Gage to play you (in some rally racing game, for example). Nokia just keep going down the wrong road, that's all ... Even as Java grows, you could have online gaming with any phone (that supports Java, sockets, Bluetooth) ... that would mean me one my S-E P900 playing you on your N-Gage in some game ... content providers (in this case, game makers) are only beginning to get into this (it's easy to do it with chess/checkers of course, but with a rally type racing game -- might be a little more difficult) ...

Whatever the case, Nokia doesn't look like they're gonna reverse their course anytime soon, but they should -- we both know that, other bloggers out there know that, but seeminly, they don't (or, they're trying to leverage their might to their advantage, but it's going to be a big investment (as it has been) to pull a profitable return. Time will tell who was right, I guess ...

I'm just glad the N-Gage works with Jellingspot :-)

Bryan Rieger said...

It would be great if a common platform existed between all mobile manufacturers. J2ME is a nice idea, (the Genuts framework is quite cool for developing games) but the implementations do vary quite a bit. The idea that a 'game is a game' playable on ANY mobile device that had implemented a specific runtime format is very attractive - but I fear that most companies will not give up any piece of differentiation for fear of losing their competitive advantage.

I really wonder if all of this un-necessary choice will only serve to confuse consumers and limit the growth of the market.

I still do love my N-Gage, but not for the reasons that Nokia had intended. ;-)

David Stennett said...

This is obviously one reason why Nokia went with the console approach, so they could have some kinda of control over the user experience -- obviously, if the N-Gage were a platform, it could get nasty -- but then again, if it were targeted at Series 60 devices in general, the there would need to be phone specific versions (does it have a pen, doesn't have a joystick, etc...) but the underlying technologies/graphics would be the same ...

I think, in the case of Java, it's really up to the game makers -- they can easily have two versions of thes same game work together. For example, let's take snakes -- if I had it on my Symbian UIQ phone, and played you online on your N-Gage (let's pretend it's a Java app), it doesn't matter what my snakes look like, nor yours -- the only info that needs to be transmitted between the devices is coordinates for example (my snake is XYZ, yours is ABC) ... the look shouldn't matter. All multi player games basically send nothing more than coordinates ... it shouldn't be different with Java (or Symbian, or BREW). The problem is, gamers haven't yet targeted multi-platforms ... they generally just target one phone -- but, it's slowly changing (I hope).

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