10 reasons you should be making games for Nokia's Ovi Store

Big bear's coming out of hibernation

10 reasons you should be making games for Nokia's Ovi Store
For the past couple of years, Nokia has been a bit of a joke for the games industry.

Still, hundreds of millions of dollars spent on two attempts to make mobile gaming stick - both hardware and software versions of N-Gage launched to technical success and abject commercial and cultural failure - can be considered an aberration.

It's the company's failure to compete with Apple and Google that's really undermined its reputation with the wider industry and money markets.

Yet, finally, the worm has turned.

Reinvigorated across technologies such as handsets, its application store, developer tools, and indeed corporately too - the appointment of new CEO Stephen Elop is a real shot in the arm - Nokia springs out of its annual Nokia World conference with a new confidence.

Sure, it has plenty of issues still to address, and it will never come out well from the apples to pears comparison with (ahem) Apple, but developers, even game developers, can't afford to ignore the world's biggest mobile phone maker any more.

Here are 10 reasons why.

1. Your vision is too small

Despite what everyone's said about Nokia - and let's face it, a lot of negative things have been said - no one doubts that the world's biggest phone manufacturer is the world biggest phone manufacturer and by a significant margin. Indeed, whatever's also been said about the technology in Nokia's devices, it's still the world's largest smartphone maker.

The result is there are 500 million active Series 40 feature phones, 175 million Series 60 devices and 45 million touchscreen devices, plus the promise of 50 million Symbian^3 sales in future.

Big enough addressable market for you?

2. All tooled up

Considering the range of handsets Nokia sells, it's no surprise its development tools can't compete with the elegance of Apple's. But iOS aside, Nokia offers the least fragmented development tools in the market, with its new Qt suite easing some of the cross platform problems that affect all mobile platforms.

If you want a comparison, start developing for Android; the ecosystem that's fragmenting with every new handset release.

3. 'Appy to see Ovi Store (Mark 2)

Nokia's application store - Ovi Store - will probably always be a work in progress, but the frankly embarrassing technology of 12 months ago has been significantly revised.

Consumer usability issues such as interface design, and speed and clarity of operation have been improved, while behind the scenes, developer support, business models and the flexibility of which devices and which territories you want to publish have also been enhanced.

Again, it's never going to be Apple's App Store but just compare it to the Android Market.

4. Teach the world to play

Not only is Nokia is the most global mobile phone maker, it's the most global app distributor too.

It has operations in every country it's legally allowed to be commercially available in - over 190. (The likes of North Korea are banned by international law.) Nokia also says that 90 percent of its mobile consumers do so within a localised language version of Ovi Store.

That means you can distribute your games in all of those countries. No other app store gives you that sort of reach, not even the blessed App Store.

5. Your really flexible friend

Demonstrating the bridge between the mobile phone market and the smartphone market, Nokia currently offers operator billing with 91 operators in 27 markets. Apple and Android combined offer precisely zero.

Okay, so the revenue split for operating billing is now 60:40, but considering Nokia claims you can experience a more than ten fold increase in sales via operator billing compared to credit card billing - and that's before you consider the much larger size of the addressable market compared to the number of people who have credit cards - that means everyone will be making more money.

Frankly if you don't, it will be your fault.

6. The grass is greener, and sparser

The flipside of Nokia's previous lack of direction when it comes to application stores is the current lack of competition on Ovi Store.

Despite the huge number of devices that support Ovi Store, there are very few high quality games available.

8. Resurrection of Java

This might not sound like a positive but what's important about Ovi Store is it now offers a channel for Java games that isn't controlled by operators.

Indeed, with free app signing for Java (and Symbian) apps, plus the ability to set which countries, and which devices you want to release your Java games into, there's now a great opportunity, especially in terms of Nokia's new range of Series 40 Touch and Type devices.

9. Nokia is desperate for you

Nokia knows it's behind the curve when it comes to the whole smartphone ecosystem, and it's desperate to catch up fast.

This should mean better developer support, better access to tools and devices, and better marketing for your game. At the moment, at least, Nokia needs you more than you need Nokia.

10. Hole in the heart

Of course, there is one big caveat.

Nokia has no penetration in the richest smartphone market in the world, North America, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. This means developers, especially US and Canadian developers, will have to work harder and in most cases, won't be able to treat Nokia as a primary market.

Yet even this provides opportunities as US and Canadian developers probably won't release anything for Nokia devices, leaving a bigger gap for European, Indian, Brazilian, Russian etc studios.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.


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jon jordan
Good point Dashford - Nokia and the Ovi Store is the place to be wrt MENA - especially in terms of resurrecting Java gaming.