From the get-go, Nintendo intended to develop their upcoming Nintendo 3DS as a console capable of better online functionality than its predecessors, the Wii and DS.
Part of this is the ability to download content passively through a function called “SpotPass.” As part of the system’s online functionality, the 3DS will be able to passively download 3D content developed by Japanese television broadcasters, Nippon Television and Fuji Television, for free.
Nintendo hope that passive online functionality will draw more people to the system’s online features. You can read more about this and other improvements Nintendo are making to their online infrastructure for the 3DS here.
Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, realizes this is easier said than done, however. Describing it as what he calls a bitter learning experience at an investor Q&A, Iwata admits that Nintendo have struggled to encourage people to take their Wii and DS systems online.
In light of this, one of the major goals for the 3DS is to allow people to experience “Something New Every Day” through the system’s online features. In order to facilitate this, Iwata feels it is imperative that Nintendo encourage people to take their Nintendo 3DS systems with them wherever they go, which will allow the system’s SpotPass mode to download content passively for them, thus demonstrating the 3DS’s online functionality.
In Japan, Nintendo have teamed up with numerous Internet providers, retailers and fast-food joints to create numerous wireless hotspots for the 3DS (over 2,000 by March 2011). Iwata reveals that they plan to do the same in the U.S. and Europe. Speaking to investors, he said:
“We must be able to offer clear-cut reasons for the overseas users to be willing to carry around Nintendo 3DS when they go out. Although we have not come to a conclusion on whether we should explore the possibility of the likes of Nintendo Zone or, like our collaborations with NTT East and NTT West, should deal with the entities which are offering free Wi-Fi access points, we are eager to proactively expand the access points so that an increasing number of people in the U.S. and Europe too can feel that it is fun to carry around a portable gaming device wherever they go out.”
The Nintendo 3DS already contains hardware which allows it to perform the same functions as the Pokéwalker that comes with Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver, essentially acting as a pedometer that counts the number of steps you walk. This is one example of a function that could encourage people to take their systems with them on the go.