Some people don’t realize how successful cell phone gaming really is, its amazing how many games are available for J2ME on a mobile phone and how sophisticated these games are. As a developer who ported VM’s to mobile phones and has built games I am still amazed at what my peers in the cell phone game industry are capable of with the API’s we are offering them.

I expected the N-Gage to fail, it was just a badly executed move from Nokia in a direction that contradicts what people want. Nokia tried to push into a market with 2 strong and cheap competitors with an expensive low grade product, its only advantage was that it contained a bad phone attached to the low quality gaming device… No serios phone user who is a part time gamer would touch this thing, it was a terrible phone (even the second version wasn’t great) and no serios gamer would touch that thing it was bulky and didn’t provide great graphics or gaming experience. So without the “core” users to push the platform very few people bought it, most of the people who did got it because they had a good “deal” with the operator but Nokia just made so many mistakes…

What Nokia should have done:

  1. Use open standards such as Java. The Java implementation on the phone was old and to make a decent game you had to use C++ which means you have to program specifically for that small phone family Symbian binary compatibility across versions leaves something to be desired and this caused even the second generation N-Gage to use an older version of the OS to maintain compatibility with the first phone. By using Java and a 3D API in Java Nokia could have offered virtual 3D worlds over the network which is something no one had in any mobile device.
  2. Learn from the Japanese, they have API’s for motion sensors GPS’s and loads of other features that are used by games inside phones considerably smaller than the N-Gage… They stuck in a radio when they should have a motion sensor that allows you to swing your arm to hit a golf ball… Cool features sell devices, they needed to diffrentiate from the guys at Sony/Nintendo (also Japanese people but they didn’t produce a cell phone…).
  3. Don’t build a game pad that is also a phone. Who would use such a thing??? Only kids and for them its too bulky. Today even my mother inlaw plays video games. She wouldn’t own such a phone because its unattractive and bulky, make a creative design use sliders and other features to allow people to make it look like a standard phone when they don’t want to appear geeky.
  4. Get games out there. When IBM built the first PC they went to Sierra and paid them 1 million dollars to develop kings quest 1, I think that investment paid off. MMORPG’s are a huge hit, they should have at least one hit “world” out there.
  5. Strike “gamer deals” with carriers so network traffic for all games or some games will only carry a fixed low monthly fee. Make playing over the network so cheap that people will use it and get used to it.

There is much more they could have done, too bad they made the wrong choices all round.