N-Gage dogged by criticism

When Nokia launched its N-Gage game deck in October last year one excited executive declared “There’s going to be a lot of tired thumbs tonight!” A few months later and it looks like thumbs down for the much-hyped mobile gaming device.

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By  Peter Branton Published  March 17, 2004

When Nokia launched its N-Gage game deck in October last year one excited executive declared “There’s going to be a lot of tired thumbs tonight!” A few months later and it looks like thumbs down for the much-hyped mobile gaming device. The past few weeks have seen the platform come under heavy fire, with Nokia’s chairman and CEO, Jorma Olila, admitting sales have been lower than hoped, and a top executive for the world’s largest games developer dismiss it as a “dog”. Olila said that “sales have been in the lower quartile of the bracket we had as our goal,” in an interview with the UK Financial Times in February. However, he said the device needed to be given until November 2005, a full two years, before it could be properly judged as a success or a failure. At least one person seems to have made up his mind rather quicker than that, with John Riccitiello, chief operating officer of Electronic Arts being widely quoted last month as saying that “When I picked that thing up I knew it was a dog. It just feels stupid.” Although EA has delivered five different games title for the handset, Riccitiello said that sales so far have been “non-meaningful”. Nokia’s Middle East representatives provided a string of statistics for the N-Gage platform, saying that total shipments last year exceeded 600,000, but acknowledging that “sales of the N-Gage game deck have been uneven.” “We remain committed to the N-Gage platform and making the necessary adjustments,” a statement said. “Although overall global sales have been somewhat lower than our initial expectations it is impossible to judge the long-term success of a platform based on three-and-a-half months of sales. Nokia is confident about the long-term success of the N-Gage platform given the continued introduction of new game titles and the value added by multiplayer gaming.” Along with being easy to carry, one of the selling points for the N-Gage, Nokia hoped, would be its ability to offer multiplayer gaming over Bluetooth and GPRS connections. However, gamers have complained of its poor design, which requires you to remove the battery before changing a game cartridge.

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