The BBC has reported that gamers are angry over Nokia's DRM scheme for the system, which locks purchased games to individual handsets rather than user's accounts. The terms of the user agreement state that purchased content will be "limited to one private installation on one N-Gage compatible Nokia device only," meaning that owners who replace or upgrade their handsets will have to re-purchase any and all games they bought for their old handset.
Gamers on various Nokia forums have expressed deep displeasure with the arrangement, with the All About N-Gage fan site that first discovered the restriction saying, "It's a bad idea for everyone... the N-Gage platform, gamers and third-party publishers." But Nokia defended the policy as a legitimate defense against piracy.
"Our policy is that the N-Gage activation codes only work on the device where they were first activated," the company said in a statement. "As with any digital media there is a potential risk of piracy and this policy is one of the ways we are dealing with piracy and ensuring our partners receive their rightful revenues from our platform," said Nokia.
Nokia added that activation codes would be reissued to customers who had defective devices that needed to be repaired.
Originally launched in 2003 as a combination mobile telephone and gaming device, Nokia's N-Gage flopped badly. Nokia originally claimed that 400,000 units had been sold worldwide during the first two weeks of launch, but after market research firms reported sales of only 5000 systems in the U.S. and 800 in the U.K. over that span, the company admitted the figure actually represented units shipped to retailers. The new N-Gage service works with a variety of Nokia's current-line smartphones,
with roughly 30 games available for purchase.
Update: There are currently 11 games available for the N-Gage platform, not 30 as previously reported. We apologize for the error.