The rumors were true: Nokia's N-Gage is returning, but it will be a gaming platform available on several new phones rather than on a single gaming handset. Gaming blog Kotaku was among the first to report on the news, which Nokia will expand upon at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. Top mobile publishers such as EA, Glu Mobile and THQ Wireless are said to be on board, and Nokia is showcasing at least six N-Gage games, including versions of such well-known franchises as Brothers in Arms and FIFA 2008.
Nokia's press release specifically mentions that the new N-Gage platform "will deliver a global games platform that leverages the performance of the tens of millions of S60 converged devices that we are shipping each year," but later specifies "S60 3rd edition devices," so it's unclear exactly which phone models will be supported (and the Symbian S60 line is extensive, to say the least). Also, the N-Gage news was muddied somewhat by the mention of SNAP Mobile in the release as well. That, apparently, is a gaming and application platform that will be available on a wider array of J2ME-compatible phones.
While Nintendo and Sony have little to fear from a resurgent N-Gage, Nokia's new gaming thrust could actually fill a niche between those dedicated gaming handhelds and the often bland entertainment options found on most phones. There are plenty of times when I don't want to lug around a PSP or a DS, but I always have my phone with me--and being able to play a game that's a bit more engrossing than Bubble Breaker or Solitaire is an inviting prospect.