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N-Gage is top platform for mobile game downloads

Sales of downloadable mobile games to N-Gage users have outstripped sales to Nokia 3510i users by 8 per cent despite a huge disparity in the installed base for the devices, according to UK mobile game retailer mProvision.

Sales of downloadable mobile games to N-Gage users have outstripped sales to Nokia 3510i users by 8 per cent despite a huge disparity in the installed base for the devices, according to UK mobile game retailer mProvision.

The company, which operates mobile gaming portals ngagegames.co.uk and mynokiagames.co.uk, says that although N-Gage users account for only 4.5 per cent of its subscribers (as against 17 per cent for the 3510i), sales of games for the device have broken all records.

This is both good news and bad news for Nokia. It proves that the device, despite a critical battering over many technical or design flaws, is being used enthusiastically as a games console; however, it suggests that users are choosing to purchase downloaded games (which cost around £5.75 apiece) rather than full-price N-Gage releases on MMC cards.

This will come as no surprise to mobile game developers, many of whom have privately expressed the opinion that the N-Gage will prove popular as a platform for standard downloaded Java games, rather than for full-price retail games.

"We manage opt-in subscriber databases for all phone game enabled handsets in the UK," explained mProvision managing director Fox Tucker, "and while our n-Gage users account for just 4.5% of our total subscriber base, we've seen game sales for n-Gage games via our sites break all records. Our opt-in n-Gage subscribers have clearly demonstrated that they bought the handset predominantly as a handheld games console."

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Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.