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.

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