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Nokia's N-Gage evolution continues

New "game oriented" mobile devices currently in development

Nokia has outlined further details of its ongoing strategy to re-establish its presence in the mobile gaming sector, including the development of a Symbian-based application to enable any Series 60 handset to play N-Gage titles, a new digital distribution strategy and the creation of new game-enabled devices.

In a recent interview with US website Gamasutra.com, Nokia's director of games publishing, Greg Sauter, said he hopes the company's new initiatives will bear fruit come Q2, 2007.

As well as further extending the recently announced online distribution service for N-Gage games and content, Nokia is finalising development on a new application called Play, enabling any Series 60 handset to play N-Gage titles, download new games and content and engage in any of the numerous community and competitive services provided through N-Gage Arena.

Whilst Nokia has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the N-Gage platform, lacklustre sales of the infamously awkward N-Gage game deck (and the redesigned N-Gage QD) and the resultant lack of retail support has forced the mobile giant to re-think its strategy.

The new approach for Nokia is essentially two-fold: moving away from the chequered past of its singular game/phone device and pushing towards a unified application which can be accessed by a much larger audience of smartphone users, and driving the distribution strategy towards online and over the air, as opposed to traditional retail methods.

A fresh marketing initiative, including the a re-branding exercise to cast off the retail and consumer association of the N-Gage's failings, is expected to launch next summer - together with a new range of game-oriented smartphone devices offering landscape screens, game controls, and powerful hardware video acceleration from partner ATI.

Nokia retains, in spite of it all, a strong N-Gage loyalty amongst consumers, partly due to some of the acclaimed titles released for the platform and partially as a result of its concerted efforts to build a gaming community through the N-Gage Arena. Opening up the platform to a new audience, with new distribution methods and a fresh marketing drive, could well aid the firm in establishing the market presence and recognition it so dramatically failed to generate with the launch of the N-Gage.

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