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GDC08: Nokia talks N-Gage, First Access, release date, N95

Following a short overview on the state of the N-Gage platform, we had a chance to ask J. Dan Scott – the Global Head of Production for Nokia Game Publishing – a few questions about the platform and the nebulous launch date. First up, Scott said there's no solid release date for the service -- the First Access program is supposed to help iron out any kinks in the admittedly ambitious launch. Launched earlier this month, the First Access program was initially limited to just the Nokia N81 handset, to limit the testing concerns, Scott said. Nevertheless, the internet had other plans, quickly enabling functionality on the N95 handset which, curiously enough, Scott said accounted for more than half of the connections to the service.

Roughly 30K users have downloaded the client to date – far more than the 2K or so Scott anticipated – and those early adopters have purchased "thousands" of games, a conversion rate that also impressed Scott (though he did admit these consumers are particularly passionate about games). The largest challenge: getting out of the mobile industry's "landfill stage" and prove to consumers (and skeptical game bloggers!) that quality gaming is possible on a mobile handset, while proving to third-party publishers that investing in developing quality games can be a lucrative endeavor. Yikes, best of luck!

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