Gaming on the Go

Gaming on the Go
The War at Hand

Max Steele | 19 Jul 2005 12:03
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I'm referring, of course, to Nokia's decision to support N-Gage games across its entire range of Series 60 smartphones. The big boys from Finland expect to sell 25 million Symbian handsets this year. To put that in perspective, Sony expects to sell half that - 12 million PSPs.

So what's the strategy behind N-Gage gaming on a smartphone? If the DS is about innovation, and the PSP is about familiarity, the smartphone is about convenience. A large percentage of the population is going to carry a smartphone for purposes other than gaming. If that population can enjoy quality handheld gaming on the device they're already carrying anyway, they will. Nokia is saying, "Developers, use our platform to reach a massive audience that's already carrying a smartphone, and is conveniently ready for you to entertain them!" And to gamers, Nokia is saying, "Play games on your smartphone because you're already using it do everything else!"

You know, this strategy might work, as well.

Hand Them Over
That's the strategy review, then. It's innovation v. familiarity v. convenience. Which will triumph?

It's a tough call, even for the discerning judgment of Max Steele. I can see the merit in the innovation that is Advance Wars DS or Kirby: Canvas Curse. I also understand the joy of PS2 gaming and UMD movies on the beautiful 4.3" screen of the PSP. And I'm certainly savvy to the benefits of good gameplay on my mobile. But I can't let you read this far and not deliver the goods.

So here's how it'll play out. Nintendo's DS will end up as the #1 platform. They'll deliver innovative, exclusive content that you can't get anywhere else, and that will drive sales. PSP will have lots of games, but very few will be exclusive, and ultimately the consumer is going to pass on paying $250 to get what he's already got, particularly because Sony's going to get distracted by the coming battle for the living room.

Sony's stumble will clear the way for Nokia's N-Gage powered smartphones to be the #2 platform in handheld gaming. I see it developing into a PC-like platform. Think of it like this: Everybody has a PC. Everybody uses their PC for work and web. Some people also use it for gaming - enough people to make the PC, as a platform, the second biggest; it's the same concept with the smartphone.

That's all. Max out.

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