Over at FutureWatch, the official N-Gage blog, ikona has revealed that they intend to officially launch Nokia’s new N-Gage gaming platform next week sometime. Nokia originally launched N-Gage several years ago as a product line, and was laughed out of the gaming industry. With only two poorly designed handsets, games only available on physical memory cards, and the slow networks of the time, the only thing Nokia really gained out of the experience was that – experience, and a TON of market research from users.
Fast forward to now, and you’d think Nokia would be doing everything possible to ensure that the new N-Gage platform did better than the original. Thus far they’ve done good, with the platform coming in the form of a downloadable application rather than a product line, support from major publishers such as THQ and EA, and higher speed networks with lower latency for sharing stats online.
So how could they possibly botch this one? By announcing that initially the platform will only be available to owners of the unpopular N81 handset, that’s how. Given that the N81 is being marketed somewhat as a gaming phone, with dedicated gaming keys hidden in the top of the handset, it’s a likely story, and not necessarily bad.
However, the big problem is that owners of the MUCH more popular N82, N95 8GB, and N95-1 (original) handsets all have an N-Gage icon in their menus, ready for activation and hours of mindless enjoyment. So what are these people to think when they hear that N-Gage is launched, but their icons don’t work?
Thus far, the new N-Gage platform is already potentially confusing consumers once again. Not a great start.