Nokia to Disengage N-Gage Gaming in 2010

Nokia N900

Finland’s Nokia has announced it plans to shut down its struggling N-Gage mobile gaming service in 2010, rolling games and other entertainment offerings into its broader Ovi Store, where it also offers mobile applications, music, and other mobile content. Nokia plans to keep N-Gage running for most of the next year, shuttering the service in September 2010. However, Nokia will be migrating the N-Gage Arena and community features to the Ovi Store, and does not plan to launch any new gaming titles for N-Gage.

“While the N-Gage.com site together with the N-Gage Arena and other community features will remain in operation throughout 2010,” the company wrote in its N-Gage blog, “the Ovi Store will be the new central place for all the mobile games that Nokia and other publishers offer from this point forward. We will no longer publish new games for the N-Gage platform.”

Customers who have purchased games through N-Gage will still be able to play those games; however, any community-based features of those titles won’t work after September 2010.

Nokia says that mobile gaming is already the second most-popular category in the Ovi Store, and maintaining two separate storefronts (N-Gage and the Ovi Store) didn’t make any sense. Faced with significant competition from the likes of the iTunes App Store, Nokia is apparently looking to streamline its mobile application and content offerings and make them accessible to a wider audience, rather than balkanizing its smartphone content business.

Nokia originally launched the N-Gage platform in 2003 with a handheld gaming system combined with a phone. The platform failed to take off, however, and Nokia eventually discontinued the product line, opting to bring N-Gage titles to its Symbian smartphones in early 2008. The revitalized N-Gage was supported by an online service that enabled multiplayer gaming, message boards, live-chats, and leaderboards, as well as online and over-the-air game sales. However, although adopted by an ardent community, N-Gage again failed to garner significant momentum in the marketplace.

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