Portable Gaming Redux


Today I saw two interesting pieces of news. First, Nokia announced that they've sold a million N-Gage units in 11 months. Wow. I can't believe it's been almost a year since the N-Gage was launched, but Wow times two that they've sold so many units. That's fantastic. I wonder if the new QD had a lot to with those numbers? In other words, since the launch of the cheaper, better looking (though less functional) QD have the numbers been going up?

The bad news for Nokia is that the competition is watching. Nintendo has sold four times as many GameBoy Advance SP's in the same timeframe - which isn't that much of a multiple if you think about Nokia beginning from a standing start - but will now be lowering the price of the newer game machine by $20 to $79. That's the right price point for me, as I still enjoy playing my GameBoy games. The last two games I bought for my N-Gage sucked (Tiger Woods and Spider-Man) so I think I'm going to drop some cash on an SP and enjoy some of my GBA titles again. That's money I would normally be spending on more N-Gage games had the price not dropped.

The other news is that EA is jumping into the mobile gaming industry in earnest. This was only a matter of time of course, but as I noted in my Jamdat IPO analysis, EA was conspicuously absent from their list of competitors. No more. They've said that in the coming years, to look for mobile versions of all of their hit games. Makes perfect sense.

The mobile game market is becoming so broad now. You have J2ME games like Prince Of Persia which run on devices as low powered as a T610, you have GameBoy games (both Gameboy Color - which I still see regularly on buses and planes - and the GBA), you have higher-power multi-function devices like the N-Gage and the *insanely cool* Tapwave Zodiac (which I held in my hands a few weeks ago. Awe-inspiring screen and graphics in an super-comfortable package), and then coming soon we'll have the super-high end PSP from Sony and the dual-screen Nintendo device.

It's almost like we're going to need different words to describe these different classes of devices. I mean, I can easily run GameBoy Color games on my phone and N-Gage using an emulator. That's how much difference there is in power between these devices. And the PSP will be at least triple that power when it hits.

I didn't write anything about the Tapwave Zodiac that I saw at BAMF a week or so ago. It's an *awesome* device. I don't care about the Palm stuff, the screen is just *so* big and bright and the graphics are just so great. Plus it had vibration as well for when you ran into things in the game. Just awesome. I still think about how much more successful the N-Gage would be if had a bigger screen, or at the bare minimum, had the screen tiped on the side, instead of it's vertical orientation. But I guess it's a good plan. Eventually, they'll create a phone that has N-Gage capabilities and it'll all make sense.

Hell, with a million devices sold, it's making sense now... ;-)


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