updated 11:50 pm EST, Thu January 26, 2012
Nintendo Network to accompany 3DS and Wii U
Nintendo's Friday briefing in the wake of its tough quarterly results has confirmed that it plans to at last go head-to-head with Microsoft and Sony in a persistent online gaming network. Just called Nintendo Network, it will let gamers download chat and play with each other without needing friend codes in addition to getting game add-ons. On the Wii U, gamers will have personal accounts, presumably letting them transport their Mii, downloads, and other preferences across systems.
The Japanese console maker already expects the 3DS to support the Nintendo Network and notes that downloadable content in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and the community aspect of Mario Kart 7 have traces of the service's ultimate direction.
No definite start date exists as of yet for Nintendo Network. The company has already committed to shipping the Wii U before the end of 2012, though, and may use that as an internal deadline.
The lack of of a consistent, always-up gaming network has been considered a liability for Nintendo, which couldn't always offer the same multiplayer and community features as on the Xbox 360 or PS3. Along with much more performance, the Wii U combined with the Nintendo Network may let developers port games more directly from competing platforms without having to sacrifice content.
Among the mentions was word that the Wii U's tablet-like controller will include NFC. Its version will work with formats like FeliCa, often used for sign-ins and payments in Japan. It could be used for micropayments, but it should also be used for exchanging data with "figurines" and other gaming possibilities. [via Joystiq]