Nokia enters games industry with playful phone

Nokia Corp. entered the games market Wednesday with the launch of its N-Gage device, which is both a games console and cell phone.

Games available on Multimedia Cards (MMCs) for the console, to be available across all GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) regions in time for the 2003 holiday season, will include Tomb Raider from Eidos Interactive Ltd. and Sonic the Hedgehog from Sega Corp. Nokia is also working with ActiVision Inc., Taito Corp. and THQ Inc., Ikka Raiskinen, senior vice president of entertainment and media activities said at the launch here.

The N-Gage supports two kinds of games — smaller downloadable games and rich media games on 2M byte, 8M byte and 16M byte MMCs, Nokia said on its Web site Thursday.

The MMCs can also be used to store MP3 files, and the device has a built in FM radio, Nokia Executive Vice President Anssi Vanjoki said.

There will be no regional blocks on the cards, he said, so that a game bought in Japan can be played on, for example, a phone bought in Germany.

Bluetooth short-range wireless networking will allow gamers to play with others in the same room, while GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) connectivity will allow multiplayer online gaming, Raiskinen said.

T-Mobile International AG is the first operator to agree to work with Nokia and the game console, it will develop online gaming services in time for the Christmas launch, Raiskinen said.

Nokia would not give pricing, saying only that the consoles will cost less than