N-Gage is top platform for mobile game downloads

Good news for Nokia's game deck as download game sales rocket.

Sales of downloadable mobile games to N-Gage users have outstripped sales to Nokia 3510i users by 8 per cent despite a huge disparity in the installed base for the devices, according to UK mobile game retailer mProvision.

The company, which operates mobile gaming portals ngagegames.co.uk and mynokiagames.co.uk, says that although N-Gage users account for only 4.5 per cent of its subscribers (as against 17 per cent for the 3510i), sales of games for the device have broken all records.

This is both good news and bad news for Nokia. It proves that the device, despite a critical battering over many technical or design flaws, is being used enthusiastically as a games console; however, it suggests that users are choosing to purchase downloaded games (which cost around £5.75 apiece) rather than full-price N-Gage releases on MMC cards.

This will come as no surprise to mobile game developers, many of whom have privately expressed the opinion that the N-Gage will prove popular as a platform for standard downloaded Java games, rather than for full-price retail games.

"We manage opt-in subscriber databases for all phone game enabled handsets in the UK," explained mProvision managing director Fox Tucker, "and while our n-Gage users account for just 4.5 per cent of our total subscriber base, we've seen game sales for n-Gage games via our sites break all records. Our opt-in n-Gage subscribers have clearly demonstrated that they bought the handset predominantly as a handheld games console."

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