Nintendo Spills Beans on "Nintendo Network," NFC Support

Rejoice, Nintendo gamers. You will no longer be referred to as a "friend code" when Nintendo fully launches its upcoming Nintendo Network for the 3DS and Wii U. The company revealed its plans for an entirely new approach to an online community and a digital distribution platform on Thursday during its third quarter financial results briefing.

As previously reported, Nintendo expects to ship the Wii U in Japan, the U.S., Europe and Australia in time for the 2012 year-end sales season.

"For the launch of new hardware, it is, of course, regarded as a sort of requisite not to miss the critical year-end sales season," Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told investors. "The company is aiming to firmly complete the development of the entire system and prepare sufficient software so that the Wii U will be at its best at the time of the launch. Needless to say, we have learned a bitter lesson from the launch of the Nintendo 3DS."

The final version will be showcased this June at E3 2012, updated with extra goodies like non-contact near field communication (NFC) support. Iwata says the tech will be compatible with FeliCa and MIFARE which is expected to be widely used around the world in the near future.

"By installing this functionality, it will become possible to create cards and figurines that can electronically read and write data via noncontact NFC and to expand the new play format in the video game world," Iwata said. "Adoption of this functionality will enable various other possibilities such as using it as a means of making micropayments."

The NFC and micropayments system will be tied into the company's upcoming Nintendo Network. Iwata said the new network was actually first revealed in Mario Kart 7 which landed on the 3DS back in December. Naturally it will support the 3DS and Wii U, and offer competitions and communication among users, as well as the sales of digital content and full-blown games. It will also allow for personal accounts, ditching the stiff "friend code" system.

"With this, for example, the ease of using a video game system when the hardware is shared by multiple family members, which has been a challenge we needed to tackle, shall be improved, and we will also be able to construct and offer the system by combining a variety of different services and content," Iwata said.

Iwata claims the network already has the infrastructure to support DLC and full retail games for both the 3DS and Wii U. He offered an early glimpse into its capabilities with a few current examples including the community building aspect of Mario Kart 7 and the music DLC scheduled for the upcoming Theatrythm Final Fantasy (February 16) game published by Square Enix.

"This concept was built into the design of the Nintendo 3DS, and we already have the necessary infrastructure," he added. "We will prepare the same infrastructure for the Wii U. However, we have not decided the concrete timing of when we will start it."

Prior reports indicated that the Wii U will sport its own app/ebook store for downloading and installing apps directly to the Wii U controller, seemingly copying iOS and Android-based tablets. That said, there's a good chance Nintendo will offer popular mobile games like Angry Birds and Cut The Rope that are optimized for the tablet's 6.2-inch touchscreen and underlying hardware.

"Whether it’s our first-party titles or third parties’ titles, for a number of games, we will actively attempt to achieve compatibility so that our consumers can enjoy our online services that we will deploy under the name of the Nintendo Network," Iwata said.

To read the entire third quarter financial results briefing, head here. The Nintendo Network aspects begins on page 4.