No tears for Nokia's N-Gage

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[Finland] Last week marked the end for Nokia’s unsuccessful games service N-Gage. Nokia announced that they will be closing down the service at the end of September 2010. About four hardcore fans protested mildly in the N-Gage blog as the rest of the world yawned. Seems like N-Gage was a project doomed to fail. Who was the target audience again? Oh who cares.

The service was launched in 2003 as an attempt to tap into a growing games market. Anyone remember the clumsy N-Gage phone? Didn’t think so. Although maybe its hideousness and general usability difficulties stuck on your mind.

To put it simply the whole ordeal comes with a huge red FAIL-stamp attached. The phone didn’t work, the games didn’t sell, the competitors had better ideas. Then that Apple phone was launched and Nokia’s N-Gage project was deader than a zombie in the vacuum of space.

It’s not all dead and buried though and some of the N-Gage games will live on in Nokia’s Ovi store. However Finnish newspaper Talouselämä wonders if Ovi is going to share the same fate as the N-Gage store a couple of years down the line. According to the newspaper both services have set off to a similar start, with an undefined target audience and fewer users than their competitors.

Where have we heard that before, have we?

  • Jussi

    Oh, it’s SO fashionable these days to bash Nokia, isn’t it? You couldn’t just analyse and report this, could you? When there’s opportunity to be mean spirited. Good grief no…

    • Indiana Gividen

      Nokia share holders crack me up. LOL

    • hary

      Yep i agree. It is pretty clear that Techcrunch don’t want good/positive things about Nokia to be reported on their site, only negative things.
      A simple example: I had tipped them of the the Nokia’s new marketing campaign in UK about Good Things’ gigantic Nokia Sign. They replied me saying that someone had already reported with a link to some other site. This was just 1 day after the campaign kicked off.
      So they didn’t post the article on the TechCrunch’s site. Why? u know the reason now.

      These N-gage news are 2 days old now.

      The main positive behind this news is that Nokia wants to integrate everything into Ovi ecosystem, so that Ovi store is a one-stop shop for everything.

  • Prashant yv

    It was better than nothing… N-gage games(which is supported on many phones) .. not the phone.. better than usual snakes and other games.. losers!!

    By the way, how is iphone related to doom of Ngage games??

    • hary

      Ok folks, here is video of interview of
      Mark Ollila, Head of Cross Media Solutions at Nokia,
      who discusses N-Gage and the future of Games on Ovi Store. This video gives few hints of what is to come in the future.

      Credit goes to:

    • hary

      Ok folks, here is video of interview of
      Mark Ollila, Head of Cross Media Solutions at Nokia,
      who discusses N-Gage and the future of Games on Ovi Store. This video gives few hints of what is to come in the future.

      Credit goes to:

  • Stu

    This post is a bit strange, to be honest. There were actually two separate N-Gage services – the first one was the two handsets (one of which you’ve pictured), but after that flopped, Nokia went back to the drawing board with N-Gage Mk. II, which was a gaming service running across various phones.

    Both may have failed to succeed, but you’d expect any analysis of why to a.) be aware that there were two separate N-Gages, and b.) to look a bit deeper than iPhone for the reasons why the second attempt failed.

    “Who was the target audience again? Oh who cares.”. Well, someone trying to figure out what went wrong should care, surely?

  • Mark A

    Sure, let’s see what happens now Nokia include the Ovi client in their new phones rather than having to download it. I think you’ll find that N-Gage and Ovi are two very different things as far as usage is concerned.

    As for usage, has it occurred to you that a lot of those downloads from, say, the Apple app store are actually in respect of applications that come with other phones as standard?

  • Joe
    • Pete Austin

      I really don’t recommend spamming Techcrunch while Arrington’s in his current mood. Also, please die.

      • Martin


      • larry

        Get up to date! I have a n-81 and the n-gage works fine and the phone is excellent. Do some research!

  • http://ASSISTEDLIVINGRESIDENCE.NET assisted living residence

    they should stick with what they do best: hardware.

  • Alex

    Who needs to do journalistic research when you can get away with comedic bashing eh? Yeah the n-gage was bad but you could of at least put in a line mentioning that non of Nokias competitors had the balls to launch anything better, despite there clearly being a Market for something merging mobile phones and Nintendo DS. Ohh, and that final sentence makes no sense in English

  • Harkonnen

    This article is so pathetic it’s not even funny.

  • mervyn

    Definitely a somewhat unknown historical icon in the tech archives.

  • Woxxy

    16 players Bluetooth multi-player, on a cellphone, in 2003. Lots of young people actually had N-Gage back then, as it was sold for quite cheap, so it was actually possible to find players. Its features were harshly beyond times. In 2009 you’re lucky if your Bluetooth is not just for audio, LIKE CERTAIN APPLE PHONES.

    N-Gage 2 failed because it lacked the advertising (beside lacking killer games, LIKE CERTAIN APPLE PHONES). I was surprised it still existed as native software in my N95, and I use to get to know every feature of the phones I buy, before handing out bucks. Still, N-Gage2 was just a bit better than Java games (some were even ports Java games…), making it an invisible optional.

    Don’t forget what was N-Gage original idea: making a phone for enjoyment, beyond just gaming. It was the precursor of all the “joy phones” we have now, LIKE A CERTAIN APPLE PHONE. It wasn’t just about its games, it was mostly about hardware.
    This was a 104mhz Symbian smartphone with AUX input, stereo output, native MP3, 3D videocard, MMC card reader, radio, decently big screen, great keyboard and speaker.
    Very soon emulators for NES, SNES and GBA came, created particularly for N-Gage, and even DivX and Xvid players, thanks to its specs. Most of original NGage games were high quality and long-lasting, unlike the ones for N-Gage2, unlike all other phones out there today and unLIKE A CERTAIN APPLE PHONE.

    All of this in 2003 for 300$, and for 150$ in 2004.

    All other cellphones were still made just for calling and had 320*240 cameras. For 400+$. Them playing snakes, you playing Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding 2. Or WormsWorldParty, or Colin McRae Rally 2004… all of them with PlayStation quality. And even if these were never released, there was a lot of third party software to make N-Gage incredible.

    No comment on the quality of the article.
    Target audience was who wanted an MP3 and/or a gaming device (both rare back then). So it’s not so hard to understand which the target was… you just didn’t even try.

    Next post, tabloid news on Motorola Droid! Is it LIKE A CERTAIN APPLE PHONE?


  • Vlad009

    Again TC publishing sensationalist and false information about Nokia. I really would like to understand why. Is it just for fun and get more clicks with such sensationalist junk, or someone sponsoring it behind the scenes???

    My advice to TC: if you have a minimum sense of responsibility, take care about what you publish against companies or even countries or cultures, be aware that one day or another you may face severe legal consequences due to lack of responsibility and professionalism on what you publish.

  • hellboy1976

    I had one of these phones, and despite the fact it never set the world on fire, I thought it was pretty good. Sure it had a few weird design features, but it was a feature packed phone for a reasonable price…

  • RIP Nokia N-Gage « Actionable Insights into the World of Indian Startups

    […] Nokia had got the mobile gaming market.    The news today as reported on TechCrunch is that Nokia is killing its Ngage platform and the Service that distributed games for the crappiest gaming device ever built.    I am […]

  • speakerz

    its so obvious that TC is on the APPLE side now. This is merely an article to inform the closure of N-gage. This is more like “oh yay another opportunity to bash Nokia”

    Speaking of professionalism. TC might just get a zero for that.


  • Alsiladka

    Did TechCrunch report that the N-Gage service that launched in 2003 has been killed by Nokia. What a huge TechCrunch #Fail

  • Scotty

    Damn, you can really tell this writer does their research! Charlotta maybe you should do some research before you write an article bashing something you obviously know nothing about!

  • E. Fail
  • rezke

    hi, guys, just to let u know, iv still got my n gage from year 2003 and it work propertly…… for me it was the best thing i ever bought…. long live n gage :)… can somebody from u guys tell me if there is an facebook chat for my old symbian platform… cheers…

  • Hannah Clifton


    Wonder if anyone is interested in golf or gadgets and is familiar with this:

    I played a round of golf a couple days ago with a mate and she mentioned that Garmin are making a wrist watch Global positioning system especially for golf.

    She said the GPS within the watch comes pre programmed with over 14k US courses and may monitor shot distance, hole, par and an odometer.

    Has anyone heard of these or simply how much they are etc?

    I’ve been looking for cheap GPS systems and this seems pretty streamlined doubled up as a watch.

  • Harriette Leroy

    Bit off theme I am aware but would it be accurate The King Elvis graceland estates proprietors have registered for bankruptcy?

    I always wanted to go to Graceland but never got chance so hope it works out as I thought that in Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules that most property are sold which means I will never get to go!

    Just had to type this as I just heard about it now and was amazed. Xx

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