Major US games retailers GameStop.com and Electronic Boutique have reduced the price of Nokia's N-Gage game deck to $199 only two weeks after the system launched, in a time-limited "instant rebate" offer which also includes free shipping for all N-Gage products.
The $100 price cut is one of the largest drops we've ever seen to the price of a console this early in its lifespan, and has prompted talk of an official drop by Nokia before Christmas - although there's no evidence as yet to support this possibility, with the Finnish company continuing to be bullish about the success of the platform. According to a Nokia spokesman, the cut is part of a "Halloween promotion" which runs from October 24th to November 2nd.
Although the price does include a SIM card from AT&T or T-Mobile with 30 days of free service, this is a deal similar to the bundling of a Virgin SIM card with the full-price device in GAME stores in the UK, and the system has not been subsidised by the networks.
Meanwhile in Britain, trade magazine MCV has reported that Nokia has lashed out at market research firm Chart-Track, whose figures showed that the N-Gage has sold under 800 units at games retail outlets across the UK. A Nokia spokesman told the magazine that "we cannot give any credence to the N-Gage figures Chart-Track reports," going on to claim that "it isn't representative… they should add a caveat or widen their sample."
While it's certainly true that a number of news sources reported the Chart-Track figures as the total UK sales figure - which they aren't by any means, since major mobile phone retail outlets such as The Link and Carphone Warehouse aren't counted - most sources pointed out this flaw in the figures in their reporting, which makes it seem a little unfair for Nokia to attack Chart-Track for simply doing its job.
Besides, in the absence of any figures from Nokia, Chart-Track is the only source available for UK figures. Although MCV today reports that Nokia has broken its "no sales figures" corporate stance to reveal a global sales figure of 400,000 game decks, this is in fact a launch shipment figure, not a sell-through figure, and no sell-through figure has yet been made available by the company.