Nintendo has officially announced Nintendo Network, an online service for 3DS and Wii U with support for downloads of DLC and full games, and a personal account system.
The service was unveiled by Satoru Iwata during an investor briefing following the release of Nintendo's latest financial results. The company president said the new offering will be broader than its predecessor, Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which he admitted was "focused upon specific functionalities and concepts."
One feature is Communities, the system which debuted in the recent Mario Kart 7 and enabled groups of users to play and compete without being on each other's friends lists. Support for paid DLC is also included, with Nintendo-published eShop game Tobidasu Pricla Kiradeco Revolution the first to make use of the feature, with Square Enix's Theatrythm Final Fantasy, which launches in Japan next month, to follow.
Nintendo Of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said recently that there was much internal concern at the notion of paid DLC because developers want players to feel they have the "key experience" on day one, and Iwata said much the same.
"As a software maker, Nintendo believes that its consumers will know in advance that they can enjoy playing the software they purchased just as it is," he said. "We believe that our consumers will be able to feel me secure if we offer our add-on concent as an additional structure in which those who love the game will be able to enjoy it in a deeper way for a prolonged play time."
Nintendo Network will also, in time, offer digital downloads of retail games. This functionality, Iwata said, already exists in 3DS, but the company is undecided on when it will make use of it, and he was clearly wary of damaging Nintendo's relationship with retailers.
Iwata also said Nintendo Network would introduce a personal account system for Wii U, aimed at improving "the ease of using a videogame system when the hardware is shared by multiple family members."