Exclusive Big-Name Games, Apps Coming to Nokia Phones

LONDON—Game-maker Electronic Arts, Muppet masters Sesame Workshop and sports network ESPN will all produce exclusive apps for Nokia’s new Windows Phones, presenters on a panel at the Nokia World show said today.

The Windows Phone marketplace has about 35,000 apps, but that’s less than a tenth of what’s available for the iPhone. Nokia has promised to pump up the Windows Phone app list with both first-party and third-party apps, and EA, especially, is bringing some big names to the platform.

EA showed a slide advertising sports games FIFA, Madden, NBA Jam and Tiger Woods PGA Tour, popular puzzle game Bejeweled 2, and third-person shooter Dead Space, among others. The company also pledged to bring 40 top EA games to Nokia’s Series 40 feature phones, including FIFA 11 and 12, Need for Speed Shift and the Sims line. (See below for all the icons of games EA is promising.)

AT&T offers a few Series 40 phones in the U.S., including the Nokia C3; they’re also available unlocked direct from Nokia.

EA didn’t say when the games would become available, or whether they would later become available to other Windows Phones. Nokia’s Windows Phones are anticipated to launch in the U.S. in early 2012, possibly at the CES trade show in January.

Sesame Workshop showed an app which wraps together a lot of that company’s award-winning kids’ content. The app includes “read-along” books with the Muppets, videos, and games.

ESPN went into more depth on its ESPN Hub, which the company initially announced during Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s keynote yesterday. The ESPN Hub will offer special localized experiences in each country, for example bringing cricket to the front in India and making sure countries where rugby is popular get news about that sport.

Sports fans will be able to drill down and access all of ESPN’s content from anywhere, though, pinning their favorite sports to the start screen. That’s sure to plan U.S.-based fans of European soccer, for instance, the EA presenter said.

Separately, I got a closer look at two of Nokia’s own upcoming apps, Nokia Music and Nokia’s public transit app. Nokia Music combines aspects of Pandora and Slacker, along with a full-track music download store. The core of the app is Nokia-created music mixes more than 13 hours long, which you can stream to your phone; 3.5 hours each of up to four mixes can be downloaded to your phone for offline playback.

The app can create custom radio stations from seed artists, just like Pandora. it can also analyze your desktop music library and produce a station based on the balance of genres you own; youc an then tweak the genre settings with sliders. That’s pretty neat. The full-track music store is Nokia’s current offering, and that part is unlikely to come to the U.S.

The public transit app thrilled me, but I’m a new Yorker. it has a great sliding-bar display like the travel booking site Hipmunk, showing you in a graphical way how long and complex various routes are to your destination. you can pre-set your favorite routes, and then it tells you how soon your train is coming by using a live tile on your home screen. It’s fun, useful and a great example of Windows Phone app programming.

None of these apps are anticipated to arrive in the U.S. until Nokia’s Windows Phones do, which the company has said will be early 2012. 

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