We now have the full details on Nintendo’s plans to expand StreetPass availability in western markets.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced today that 28,000 Wi-Fi access points in the US and 24,000 access points in Europe will be installed in areas such as Starbucks and McDonald’s to increase the number of connections experienced by 3DS owners. These spots act as relay stations and will be able to automatically connect to any system following a system update.
Here’s how it works: you walk into a Starbucks, and your 3DS – in Sleep Mode – reaches an access point and sends StreetPass data to a server. While this is happening, the same 3DS receives the data of another user from the server. It’s more like indirect communication as opposed to connections taking place between 3DS users a few feet apart.
Moving on to a different topic, the Nintendo 3DS hardware incorporates a feature known as StreetPass.
When the Nintendo 3DS system is in Sleep Mode, this feature allows users who are playing any StreetPass-compatible game to automatically exchange game data with other users in close proximity who are also playing the same game.
StreetPass is very common in crowded Japan. In contrast, our American and European users seem to meet each other via StreetPass less frequently, and as a result, we have not seen a significant rise in the number of people who carry their Nintendo 3DS systems in Sleep Mode. When compared with our Japanese users, it seems that fewer people are experiencing the StreetPass feature on a daily basis.
This year we will release software that opens doors for new ways to play through the StreetPass feature, such as “Animal Crossing: New Leaf,” and I hope that more people around the world will be able to experience the benefits that StreetPass provides.
We will achieve that by taking advantage of Wi-Fi access points and implementing a StreetPass relay feature into the Nintendo 3DS hardware.
Starbucks and McDonald’s, among others, provide about 28,000 Wi-Fi access points, which are connected automatically to Nintendo 3DS, in the U.S. and 24,000 in Europe.
We are going to perform a system update that introduces a framework that uses these access points as StreetPass relay stations by this autumn.
This will involve taking a Nintendo 3DS system in Sleep Mode to an access point which will then connect automatically and send StreetPass data to a server. At the same time, the Nintendo 3DS system also receives the StreetPass data of another user from the server. In this setting, data is not exchanged directly, but rather through a StreetPass relay station. Hence, as opposed to, say, Person A and Person B directly exchanging game data, data will be transmitted in sequence from Person A to Person B, and then onto Person C and so on.
But the surprising and magical feeling of exchanging data with someone you simply shared a location with is as real as before.
Previously the StreetPass feature required multiple Nintendo 3DS systems in Sleep Mode to be in the same location at the same time, but in this framework, you can exchange data with others by visiting the same location even at a different time, so we can certainly expect the use rate of the StreetPass feature to grow significantly.