Nokia has essentially ditched the N-Gage hardware project, though is planning to keep the brand and platform for use in a range of Smartphones, the Finnish cellular giant explained today in a press release.
The N-Gage QD and original 'cheese sandwich' models have been dropped, faced with consumer apathy, critical mockery and publisher disinterest, though a new development kit has been created – with Nokia showing its enhanced wares to its development partners in Helsinki and Vancouver earlier this month. It is believed that the N-Gage brand will be maintained, though incorporated as an addition or value-add to future Smartphones carrying the Nokia insignia.
The new middleware promises ease of development for a new phase in Nokia mobile gaming, with the firm hinting that it intends to drop more 'traditional' gaming in favour of implementing a range of massively multiplayer minigames and of course, online RPGs. As the N-Gage simply couldn't compete with other machines on the market, (who would buy SSX for a phone with framerate issues when they could spend the same amount on another version?) the new plan, on the surface, is the most interesting thing Nokia has attempted to do since the launch of its N-Gage and the conference it hosted in Los Angeles which saw some staff from a certain online publication, ahem, hijack a double-decker bus for a joyride up the freeway.
We actually expect the revised Nokia stance to be something of a success, with positive feedback gathered from workshops it hosted to outline the functionality of its new middleware. The fact that the concept seeks to ditch direct competition with other platforms and become self-pollinating, combined with Nokia's massive, if shrinking, marketshare of the global cellular industry is a potentially potent mix.
Of course the whole thing could be doomed, as Nintendo is poised to release what has been described to us as a 'cell phone-inspired' redesigned DS complete with voice over IP capabilities, but you didn't hear that from us. Just bookmark this page and head back mid-next year as the new DS and its endless free voice-talk is announced (and this story ignored by our usual naysayers).
You can call it VoIPton.