Today, Nokia released the QD, the redesigned version of its poorly received N-Gage, everywhere in the world--except in North America. The combination mobile phone/game deck will arrive in the Western Hemisphere on June 29, where units will sell for a list price of $199.
Or will they? Reports from Europe and Asia indicate that foreign mobile phone networks are heavily subsidizing the QD in exchange for extended service contracts. Reuters is reporting that prices as low as 49.99 euros ($60.53) were common across the Atlantic, with some carriers even offering the QD for free. "It could go to zero euros in some markets with subsidies," said Nokia rep Damian Stathonikos.
But will American gamers be able to pick up a free QD when the deck arrives on US shores next month? Nokia isn't saying just yet. "We haven't announced what carriers will be selling the N-Gage," a Nokia spokesman told GameSpot. However, the rep did say that Nokia had joint announcements with multiple cell phone networks in the works and that the potential discounts set the N-Gage apart. "[A QD subsidy] is something that has not been in the traditional games industry, but it's another thing that we can bring to the table," he said.
When the QD was initially unveiled, Nokia publicly stated that it expected a carrier-subsidized $99 price point to be common. However, the standard cost of the phone/deck remains set at $179, or $199 when bundled with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. While the original N-Gage could be used with most US mobile-service carriers, only a few sold it directly--and none offered it at less than its initial $299 price.