The N-Suck.

Today, Nokia announced that someone has hacked their copy protection scheme for their games, which come on MMC cards.

In other news: No one cares.

Approximately one month ago, Nokia entered the handheld video market with its much hyped “N-Gage” portable gaming console – phone hybrid device. It was touted as a challenger to Nintendo’s GameBoy Advance, which currently has a well deserved chokehold on the portable gaming market. A great majority of the video gaming community has rejected the N-Gage, and they’ve told Nokia how they feel about it, by doing absolutely nothing. The launch of the system was one of the worst in my recollection. I wasn’t there, but neither was anyone else.

Nokia pushed the N-Gage via an aggressive marketing campaign that included hiring people to deface public property. If you recalled seeing strange graffiti at bus stops or metro stations, with the words “N-Gage” on them, they were Nokia’s attempt at reaching out to the youth market. Their campaign even included paying retailers to adopt ridiculous “hard sell” tactics at their stores. Both of these techniques failed marvelously, and were found repellent by the very customers they were trying to attract. Well, I found the graffiti mildly amusing, but I doubt that anyone else got the joke.

According to various sources, the N-Gage sold 5,000 units, nationwide. It was released in October. By comparison, Nintendo expects to sell 20,000,000 GameBoy Advances this fiscal year, and is well on its way to doing so. 20 million divided by 365 is 54,795. In one month, the N-Gage has failed to sell even a tenth of what Nintendo does in one day.

Time may prove me wrong, but if abysmal sales numbers are any indication, the N-Gage is turning out to be one of the worst financial failures of the gaming industry.

In my mind, it seems that Nokia developed and manufactured the N-Gage with absolutely no input from the people that would be purchasing the unit. Someone in a board room put together a bunch of buzzwords like, “Wireless,” “Mobile,” and “Games” and created a product that nobody in their right mind would buy. The phone aspect of the device is adequate, nothing fantastic. As a gaming platform, the device has received mixed reviews.

Nokia’s N-Gage has two jobs:

1. Play Games
2. Make phone calls

I have to remove the battery to insert and remove games? Cramped directional pad and strange button layout? No exclusive “must have” titles?

Gamers: Step into my office.
NGage: Why?
Gamers: Because you’re fucking fired.

But just because it fails as a gaming device doesn’t mean that the phone is horrible, right? It’s understandable that Nokia would make an inferior gaming console. They’ve never made one before. One would think that Nokia, in all their years of experience, would be able to make a phone that is easy to hold and a pleasure to use. If nothing else, Nokia has created a new word for our lexicon, “Sidetalking.” No one can be told what sidetalking is, you have to see it for yourself.

Fortunately there’s this parody site devoted to the “sidetalk” method of using the phone.

Also, as a warning, Nokia uses this eccentric method on the 7700, one of the newest phones in its lineup. I guess it’s a future trend.

To paraphrase the Simpsons, “I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows.”

I don’t foresee a future with the N-Gage in it. I may be wrong. Again, only time will tell, as history is written by the victors. If it is a failure, I guess I’ll have to console myself with the GameBoy Advance and its superior library of games.

Ah well.