Nokia says N-Gage launch a success

N-Gage hails the sale of 400,000 units worldwide; analysts are less enthusiastic.


In a possible response to reports of poor U.S. and UK sales, Nokia announced today that its N-Gage console sold 400,000 units during its first two weeks in the international marketplace. "That's a pretty fantastic start for a totally new platform and concept," said Nada Usina, general manager of Nokia Entertainment & Media in North and South America.

Analysts, though, were quick to say that 400,000 units isn't an impressive worldwide sales figure. "For a global number it's not a huge quantity," Harris Nesbitt Gerard's Edward Williams said, quoted in the New York Times. Other analysts pointed out that those figures represented only N-Gages delivered to the retail channel, but not necessarily those sold through to consumers. Usina wouldn't clarify whether the numbers were sell-in or sell-through, telling GameSpot only, "that's total volume sold."

Without giving specific figures, Usina did concede that American sales were less than stellar. "It's not a surprise to us that the U.S. market needs a lot more work," she said. "[We've] still got a lot of work to do from an educational standpoint," Usina added.

Usina cited American consumers' lack of familiarity with SIM-card technology and some of the other technologies incorporated into the N-Gage, like Bluetooth, as why N-Gage's sales in America were softer than in more mobile-savvy markets.

"Everyone in Scandinavia and Italy knows what a SIM card is," she said, "we've seen really strong demand in Europe, Africa, and in Asia." Williams agreed, saying in print, "[Nokia's] market is going to be best in regions like Europe and Asia where sales to consumers is strong. In the United States, Nokia will still need to address issues such as the high price."

So what is Nokia doing to address the N-Gage's $299.99 price tag in the U.S.? Not a lot. Currently the only N-Gage rebates on offer are the $50 worth of free messaging and online gaming from T-Mobile, and the $100 mail-in gift voucher from EBgames.

Usina said Nokia will indeed be looking for ways to lower the price point. However, she said the most common method of reducing cell phone prices--mobile carriers offering discounted phones for calling contracts--won't be applied to the N-Gage any time soon. "After they use [the N-Gage], people will find they're getting a good value," she said.

On the N-Gage's lukewarm reception by gamers, Usina felt the media was a factor. "The games press is a pretty cynical audience," she said. But Usina admitted some aspects of the console would take getting used to: "It is interesting to see the things that are difficult to get over, things like the removal of the battery."

That doesn't mean, though, that any changes are in the works, as Usina shot down rumors that a re-designed N-Gage would be coming out next year. "We're looking at continuity in the platform for the next few years."

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are no comments about this story