RealTime IT News

Nokia Hardly Hanging Up on Online Gaming

Nokia Tuesday sought to broaden its horizons for online gaming when it purchased the rights to Sega.com for an undisclosed amount and unveiled its first service using features from its new acquisition.

A leading mobile phone maker who sees gaming on its gadgets as the key to future success, Finland's Nokia made the move to harness Sega.com technology for its own Nokia N-Gage game deck, giving it the ability to create content, which was not previously possible on the system.

Specifically, the SEGA Network Application Package (SNAP), which makes multi-player games over a network possible, will become the core of Nokia Mobile Phones' Entertainment and Media Business Unit's online gaming offering. Sega.com is a San Francisco-based subsidiary of gaming giant Sega.

Online games that support many players have become increasingly popular as more and more customers have picked up cable or broadband connections to the Internet. Combine those factors with the increased demand for gaming on the go and Nokia believes its new acquisition will bolster the value proposition of its game deck.

Nokia expects to compete soundly with in the multi-million-dollar online gaming market, including such purveyors as Microsoft, which oversees XBox Live and MSN Gaming Zone, and RealNetworks, which orchestrates RealArcade. There are also some lesser-known rivals to contend with, such as Butterfly.net, which offers grid computing software to enable online gaming.

"For the first time, a gamer sitting in a park in London can find another player and 'shadow race' against a player in Los Angeles or even Singapore, who has posted a shadow image of his game character in the N-Gage Arena. The London gamer can in turn post a clip of the game on the site, showing his victory and simultaneously challenge the rest of the game community. We are incredibly thrilled by the versatility of opportunities by this virtual games arena." said Ilkka Raiskinen, Senior Vice President and the Chief N-Gager, Nokia Mobile Phones.

Nokia has already crafted a new service with the SNAP technology from the Sega.com assets. Nokia envisions the N-Gage Arena service will be the home for a community of gamers all over the world.

Features of the N-Gage Arena will include: cheats, or downloads that boost the characters abilities or help the player out of a sticky situation, game clips, "shadow gaming," in which a gamer posts a "shadow" of his/her character, which other players can contest, strategy guides and walk-throughs.

The service will go live on October 7, which is the same day the Nokia N-Gage game deck will be commercially available for consumers. Nokia will host the service and it will be offered to the gamers through operators. Nokia will also provide publishers and developers the tools to create new online content for their games.

N-Gage Arena content will first be offered free to consumers for a trial period. However, data traffic fees are applied according to operator specific data plans.