Nokia has confirmed that a successor to the N-Gage is due by early 2008. The company's FutureWatch blog indicates that developers EA and Gameloft are on board to develop for the updated N-Gage, and that other "leading publishers" will be making games as well.
Perhaps the bigger news is that the next N-Gage won't be a single device, but rather a gaming platform available on certain of its advanced Series 60 models. (Whether a future Series 60 phone will look like the Nokia concept pictured here, however, is anybody's guess.) Instead of buying games on MMC cards, titles would simply be purchased and downloaded directly to the phones via cellular broadband services. This conforms with the broad outline of the N-Gage's future that Nokia unveiled back at E3 2005.
If it all pans out, the new direction for the N-Gage makes a lot more sense. The idea of getting a superior phone that offers decent gameplay as a value-added extra feature is much more appealing than getting a device that's fatally compromised between its gaming and telephone functionality--which was essentially the case with the much maligned N-Gage (and its follow-up, the N-Gage QD). No, the new N-Gage phones won't ever compete with the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP, but if the downloadable titles are competitively priced ($2 to $5) and offer some compelling on-the-go gameplay surpassing the Java minigames found on standard handsets, there's no reason N-Gage games wouldn't be as popular as, say, downloadable ringtones.
In a recent interview with the U.K.'s Mobile Entertainment, Nokia exec Jaakko Kaidesoja confirmed that the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco in early March--not February's 3GSM conference in Barcelona--is the show to watch for N-Gage news. In the meantime, we'll leave you with the original phone's greatest legacy: Sidetalkin'.
Editors' note: This blog entry has been updated since its original publication to reflect additional information.