If you've noticed an uptick in the number of gaming announcements coming out of Espoo recently, there's likely a very good reason for that. As expected, the New York Times is reporting that Nokia will officially announce this week a totally revamped N-Gage platform this week, turning the brand from a series of dedicated gaming-oriented phones to a full fledged service supported by a variety of its S60-based handsets. It sounds like N-Gage will take a number of cues from the current crop of online services for video game consoles, offering "try before you buy" game demos, player skill matching, recommendations, and other features that look to give the service even more of a community feel than it had before. Perhaps most importantly, Nokia will step up casual game offerings -- crucial for those times when you have literally one or two minutes to bust out some entertainment -- and offer the games as downloads rather than pesky cartridges. There's no word yet on exactly what existing handsets will be compatible, but it's safe to say superphones like the N95 will make the cut -- and odds are this doesn't spell the end of the gamephone form factor, either.

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Third time's the charm: Nokia prepping new N-Gage service this week