Next-generation Nokia N-Gage pilot begins

Nokia's new N-Gage gaming service is scheduled for mid-2007

Nokia looks set to revive its N-Gage mobile gaming platform with the launch of a pilot service in Finland.

The company has teamed up with Finnish telecoms company Elisa , ahead of the commercial launch of the service which is expected in mid-2007.

The next generation N-Gage service is the successor to the original N-Gage platform, launched in 2003, that ran only on dedicated Nokia gaming devices.

The new service will be available on a range of Nokia N-series and other Symbian S60 handsets as an N-Gage application - broadening the appeal of the rich quality gaming promised by the platform. Nokia has not yet confirmed whether a new dedicated N-Gage gaming device will also be launched.

The new N-Gage service is designed to make it easier for users to find, download and manage games. It will also provide users with a "try before you buy" option, downloadable over-the-air or via PC. The N-Gage platform will enable multiplayer gaming via Nokia N-Gage Arena, the mobile global gaming community established for original N-Gage users.

Game on

However, first generation N-Gage games will not be compatible with the new generation of N-Gage-enabled mobile devices. Nokia is currently working with a number of games developers, including Electronic Arts and Gameloft , and is expected to announce tie-ups with other top-tier games companies in the run-up to the launch.

Commenting on the trial with Elisa, Jaakko Kaidesoja, director, games, multimedia, Nokia said: "The core of the Nokia games strategy is to make it easy for people to find, buy and play great quality mobile games.

"This pilot will help us further refine the N-Gage experience for our commercial launch later this year."