Games on Nokia's N-Gage are easy to hack

Hackers have cracked the copy protection code of games developed for Nokia's recently launched N-Gage mobile game console, the company said Wednesday.

"We have discovered that some of the N-Gage games are available for downloading on a number of Web sites," said Damian Stathonikos, a Nokia spokesman. "We will work closely with ISPs (Internet service providers) and authorities, and continue to develop our own copy protection mechanisms to curb this action."

Earlier this week, the gaming Web site www.spong.com revealed successful hacks of N-Gage games, saying the games could be "cracked like an egg."

Club-Siemens.net, an unofficial Web site for users of Siemens mobile phones run by the Norwegians Silje Brevik and Jorgen Molna, posted a message confirming that N-Gage games can be downloaded and installed on the German company's SX1 mobile phone. The Web site posted several screen shots of N-Gage games installed on the Siemens SX1 phone.

The message said that the N-Gage games run "very well on the SX1." Users of the Siemens phone only need to transfer the game file to the MMC (Multimedia Card) and use a specific application to install the game, according to the message. "The sound is nice" and the "graphics are perfect," it said.

The program to install the game is called BlizzardN-Gage.sis, according to one gamer who requested anonymity. The gamer said he was surprised to see how easily N-Gage games could be cracked and also by the fact that the games run on other Nokia phones, such as the 3650 and 6600 models. "I was under the impression that N-Gage was completely different hardware but this doesn't appear to be the case," he said.

News of its game protection code being hacked doesn't appear to come as a total surprise to Nokia. "We thought this might happen," Stathonikos said. "This behavior is, unfortunately, a relatively common occurrence in the gaming industry."

In October, Nokia launched N-Gage, a combined mobile phone and game console. The wireless device allows users to play games against other people using a Bluetooth or a GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) connection.

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John Blau

IDG News Service
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