N-Gage... DOA?

They make nice computer cases too. Too bad the game selection over there sucks.[/quote]

Teo VERY annoying things:

  1. You must open the battery compartment to change games.
  2. They had no plan for “saving games” (at least that they could tell me)
  3. No cell phone providers have signed-on yet.


I used to work at a company that was developing games for cell-phones, and I think I can say with absolute certainty that Nokia has no idea how design a workable UI, and I’d be really surprised if they could design a decent game-playing device on their first try.

As for the price point, does anyone recall Nokia’s cell-phone about a year ago that was >$1000. It was made out of platinum, had a sapphire screen, and it sounded as good as an orchestra, according to their press release (never mind that you’re still using the same low-bandwidth connection you’ve always used, so you’ll just get some really high-fidelity static…)

I really don’t understand Nokia’s strong position in the market.


The running joke on the floor was that there were more staffers in the Nokia booth than people browsing it (often by 4:1). I don’t see this one catching on.

Although for all the people who’re screaming that phone-based gaming isn’t going anywhere, I respectfully disagree. It’s a niche market right now, but so were cell-phones twenty years ago. At the show, you couldn’t go ten feet without bumping into someone trying to shout into their cell-phone over the general noise level. It’s going to take some time, and there will be false starts, but mobile phone/gaming convergence is going to happen.

At least, that’s my opinion.


If today’s Penny Arcade is any indication, sounds like the Nokia bites.

(My previous comments were a defense of the concept in general, not necessarily of the n-Gage hardware.)

I’m far more jazzed about the TapWave device.

More broken gaming handheld carcasses to throw on the pyre created and maintained by the GameBoy.


This week’s “Dave Long Predictable Post of the Week” brought to you by Charmin. Yes, squeezably soft! That’s Charmin!

I’m not sure how well the NGage will do, but I know of plenty of people who buy cell phones to play games on. I get a ton of calls all day (at Verizon Wireless) and people are constantly asking “Which one is the best for games?” People don’t usually want the best cell phone, they want the coolest one. Just speaking from personal experience since I have to talk to people like this day in and day out.

They’re gotten a lot better believe it or not. I download two or three new games a week and most of them are decent enough. Sure, they’re not going to replace what I have on my GBA, but my GBA isn’t exactly going to replace my GameCube or other home consoles. People like games on their cell phones because it adds value. Not everyone likes to carry around a GBA, they’re too big for a lot of people to just toss in their pocket. You can also play games on your cell phone during a meeting with no problems, while playing your GBA during a meeting would be a different matter entirely.

For the cellular industry something doing $400 million isn’t all that great to tell you the truth. And wireless gaming is actually pretty huge everywhere except the U.S. from what I know. Similar to how text messaging has barely made a dent here, but in Asia and Europe it’s an enormous money maker because people do it non stop.

No doubt. The U.S. has always been about two to three years behind the asian markets when it comes to cellular technology and trends. A higher utilization of public transport and higher land line costs are probably the main reasons for them adopting these technologies before we do.

It’s always a trip to talk to customers on the phone who have recently moved from Europe or Asia. I had one lady a few weeks ago who was regularly sending 3,000+ text messages a month, and that’s not counting her incoming messages. That’s a crazy number when you consider that the average american cellular user sends/recieves an average of 5 a month.

Not everywhere. I know a number of independent developers who create Java based games for cell phones that people can download. It’s just a matter of the U.S. being behind the times here.

Also, from what I know the cellular companies (at least Verizon) are fairly open when it comes to approving games for sale with their handsets. It’s not like someone going to Nintendo and trying to get their game approved for the GC.

Yeah, it’s called a Vertu. And they start at about $5,500, but usually wind up going for about $20,000. There’s a number of options concerning the metals and fine gems you can use in it, pretty cool stuff. You even get a concierge assigned to you when you buy one. Some dude that sits next to me was talking to a customer who had one not too long ago. Apparently he just used it for show off purposes and barely used it… ooooohhhhhhhhhh.

As far as Nokia’s market position, well, they make extremely cheap phones that basically work most the time. They were also one of the first producers to make cell phones of a manageable size. Motorola has had great cell phones for years but it wasn’t until recently that they actually started caring about how they looked. They approached it as “High quality cell phones with no frills for a high price.” People don’t want that from what I’ve learned. They want cool looking cell phones for as little money as possible. They’ll complain about the quality of the phone after they’re stuck in their contract, hehe.

I’m not sure how well the NGage will do, but I know of plenty of people who buy cell phones to play games on. [/quote]
And here I am, also in Northern California, working for a technology company in a completely different sector. I talk to people, and meet various people and have never met anyone that plays games on their cel phones.

The fact that you work for Verizon, I think, puts you in a position far outside that of the “normal” person, so I’ll ask the comments from other people here.

How many people here that don’t work in the gaming or mobile industries (all 5 of them) regularly see people that buy cel phones for games?

I’ve worked on the media side of both industries. Almost everyone I know owns a cel phone, and I’ve never met anybody who really cared about the games their cel can play.

I wish I knew that guy on the subway from that one commercial. The one with the jingle “play, play, play… I wanna play some games!” He gives the devil sign to some gang members nearby and I always wish this was an alternate version where they stomp him.

It pains me that I know this, but I think that’s one of the Motorola commercials. I seem to recall that the original was the guy downloading a classical music ring tone, playing it, then making the devil sign.

raises hand People play lots of cell phone games here! But then again, this isn’t the States. As has been mentioned, the technology is farther along and a good many people like having a game or two to entertain them when alone on trains. Hell, my version of Dragon Quest Monsters allows me to download my data onto my cellphone, play the cell phone version and then upload it back into the PSX game at home, and even catch new monsters and areas in the cell phone version.

Cell phones HAVE actually been taking a chunk out of the video game market over here because a) they offer quick and easy gameplay that has been up to the average GBA game for a while now (i.e. Shin Megami Tensei got ported to both recently) b) they’re cheap and c) and they’re the cool techno gadget fad right now.

That said, I don’t think if Nokia decides to try N-Gage here, they’ll do very well, the three main cell phone manufacturers are too entrenched, the games are cheaper at the same level of quality (they’re only about $2.50 in USD and regular cell phone charges for multiplayer play), it doesn’t have to be molded to the cell phone’s nice, small, sleek design for good control and our cell phones already do more than the N-Gage does (I don’t think you can see the face of the other person talking, or take movies, or have an updated mobile tracking of “where you are” to tell your friends on a map, or play MP3s, etc.) Plus, our phones are cheaper and there are gallons of GOOD freeware and shareware games to download. There are so many shmups available its dizzying (I currently have a witch shmup where you download weekly levels as part of the serialized story, so it combines manga with videogame and I love it!)


You’re trolling for anecdotal evidence?

Fact of my matter is, 9 times out of 10, when I look over the shoulder of someone playing a gameboy who’s over the age of 10, they’re playing a game that they could just as easily be playing on their phone. It’s interesting, but anectdotal, if you get my drift.

The problem with the N-Gage, if you ask me, is that they’re making a hi-end gaming phone for the segment of the market least likely to care. The people who want to play Tony Hawk or Red Faction (fer chrissakes, they’re making Red Faction!) don’t need/want it for their phone.

Your Power Pill

You’re right. Me talking to hundreds of different customers on a daily basis means that I have absolutely zero insight into what some of Verizon’s customers actually use on a daily basis. How could I have been so silly. :roll:

If I’m the guy to call on the phone for Cthulu porn and I spend all day on the phone talking to hundreds of people eagerly desiring the best in mind-sucking erotic entertainment, that by no means implies that there’s a huge market for Cthulu porn.

You see my point?

I point out that I don’t know anyone at all that buys phones for games. Hell, I have never seen anyone play games on their cel phones. Even the early-adopter people that I know that spend a premium on their phones never mentioned games as a reason to get their phones. My “man on the street in 20-30 yr old technologically literate circles” view is that no one buys phones for the game or plays the existing games on the phones that they have.

And yes, I know Europe is different. I know Japan is different. I suspect the combination of public transport, non-flat rate landline calling, and a more condensed population/better service are the reasons there.

That picture pretty much sums the N-Gage up perfectly.

I’m a pretty serious gamer, and when I bought my phone I was concerned with price and various call-related features. Games are nice, but a significantly secondary function. My current phone’s games really blow - clones of Battleship, Qix, Othello, and Pacman. Not very exciting.

That said, I’m up to 630,000 in a continuing game of Erix. I rule.

Guys, guys, guys… You’re both right.

TECHNOLOGY people don’t play games on cell phones. They know better.

The unwashed masses, on the other hand, do. That’s why they’re selling despite the games being total crapola right now for the most part – the people playing them don’t know any better. They’re the same ones you see playing Solitaire on their laptops on airplanes.

Hey GMicek, when in the heck is Verizon going to bring out a freakin’ Bluetooth cell phone? I love my Kyo 7135, but I need a BT phone for testing stuff at work and like to replace my wife’s cell with one, if Verizon will ever release a new technology without testing it for 7 years first…

I hate to be a dick, but you’re wrong. There are people that base their phone purchasing decision on the games available for that phone. I realize you don’t know anyone who based their decision on the games, but I know of a ton of cases. How common is it? Tough to say. Like i said, I’ve talked to a ton of people who are in the situation i’ve been describing, but the area that i cover (california, nevada, arizona, new mexico) is going to have a higher adoption rate than say Gulf Breeze, Florida.

Ohh, nice phone! Have you had any problems with it since you got it? Anyway, the only BT phone we have (from what i know) is the Ericsson T61c, but it’s only available through indirect agents (like Radio Shack and other places like that). I know that VZW takes forever to get phones because if there’s a problem with it in one area they’ll delay it company wide (witness the current Samsung i700 situation). I talked to some guys from Kyocera and LG a few months back and they said they have some BT stuff coming our way relatively soon. But who knows what that means, the 7135 was originally supposed to be out in October, and look at when it actually came out!

From what I know the cool stuff VZW has coming up are a redesign of the Get It Now suite of programs, and vastly improved SMS capabilities. So instead of being restricted to 160 character txt messages you’ll be able to send messages up to 1,000 characters in length. You can also attach pictures, emoticons, sounds, and music to your messages in addition to using standard text formatting like bold and italics. Apparently it’s all up and running now but there’s a lack of phones that support it, and the phones that are capable need to be flashed and there’s a shortage of flash kits. Ahh, nothing like planning ahead!