Nokia revives N-Gage as mobile gaming software

Nokia is planning to revive its ill-fated N-Gage brand as a piece of gaming software built into its handsets, rather than a standalone device.

The mobile phone giant is likely to unveil the platform at the Games Developer Conference in San Francisco next month, and is understood to have had talks with publishers including Disney, Sega of America and Vivendi Games.

Nokia launched the original N-Gage, which was a phone and games console hybrid, in 2003 but it failed to live up to expectations. The company’s head of marketing for games Simon Etchells admitted in an interview with Marketing Week last year that attempts by mobile companies to get into gaming had not worked, calling them a “little bit messy” (MW April 27, 2006).

He added at the time: “Mobile gaming has not been as good as consumers would like. It’s not that people don’t want to do it, but a lot of them have tried it and not had a great experience.”

A Nokia spokeswoman says of the plans to bring back N-Gage: “Nokia will continue to redefine the mobile gaming experience with its next-generation gaming platform. To be launched in mid-2007, the N-Gage brand will evolve from a device offering games and services to a comprehensive mobile gaming experience. It will enable users to easily find, buy and play great quality connected games on their Nokia N-Series and Series 60 devices.”

Nokia appointed Lowe to create a £100m global advertising campaign for its N-Series handsets in 2005. The company began a review of its £175m global advertising account for its mobile phone division last month. Grey holds the mobile phone division business in Europe and the US, while Bates is the incumbent in Asia.

Nokia is also understood to have started a review of its global below-the-line roster. The company works with agencies including OgilvyOne, Joshua and Haygarth, but began contacting direct marketing networks last month.

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