Nokia to Up the Ante on Mobile Games

On March 20, Nokia announced its premium game platform, an approach that I think could change mobile gaming as we know it and deal a blow to rivals like Sony.
Olga Kharif

Nokia's last gaming foray, its N-Gage gaming platform, wasn't exactly a success. But yesterday, Nokia announced a large-scale effort that I think could help the company make more headway into the mobile gaming market -- and, ultimately, hurt portable gaming console companies like Sony.

On March 20, Nokia announced a premium games platform that will become available in the second quarter of 2007. Effectively, this software and related set of developer tools will make everything from discovering to buying good mobile games (and good mobile games are hard to find) simple. The platform will also allow users to store games in a virtual locker, accessible from any Nokia mobile phone, so if you upgrade to a newer phone, your content isn't lost.

But here's the service's most interesting feature: You'll be able to connect your phone, via a USB cable, to your computer, to download larger games. That's right, this could change the mobile gaming industry as we know it.

Today, mobile games have to be kept simple (primitive, more like it) so they can be easily downloaded onto your phone over the air. The last time I downloaded a simple little game, the download took me about five minutes. This was pretty annoying, considering that 30 seconds into the game I discovered the game's quality was so bad, I'd never ever wanted to play it again.

This is why this USB port feature is so cool: First off, a download won't take as long. Secondly, I think that if cell phones allow for bigger games (and some cell phones come with 2 Gigs of memory nowadays), there's a higher chance that the games we do buy will be better. At least I'd like to think so: After all, with a bigger game, you offer a lot more cool features and better graphics.

I don't see why a cell phone then won't be able to offer the same kinds of games we play on Sony PSP today. I think this time around, Nokia found the right approach to tackle its rivals. Sony, beware!