GDC 2011: Nintendo 3DS Gamers to Get Netflix Access, Free Wi-Fi

A new 3D Super Mario game is also in the works, along with the May launch of a video service offering movies in 3D.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nintendo is bringing more than autostereoscopic (glasses free) 3D games to U.S. consumers on March 27 with the launch of its $250 Nintendo 3DS. The company has partnered with AT&T to give any Nintendo 3DS owner automatic free access to the Internet at more than 10,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots beginning in late May.

This summer, Nintendo will introduce access to streaming Hollywood movies and TV shows via Netflix exclusively on Nintendo 3DS. The service is already available on Nintendo Wii, but not any of the current Nintendo portable systems. Netflix members who have an unlimited plan starting at $7.99 a month can access a broadband wireless Internet connection and instantly stream movies and TV shows directly to their Nintendo 3DS systems, similar to how the service is used on the Wii console. This means people can start watching a movie via Netflix on their Wii systems at home and then pick up the same movie later from a different location using their Nintendo 3DS systems.

These features were announced today at the 25th Game Developers Conference (GDC 2011) during Nintendo President Satoru Iwata's keynote address, titled "Video Games Turn 25: A Historical Perspective and Vision for the Future."

"There is great potential to increase the number of people who enjoy video games by opening up new game-play opportunities that are only available through the use of 3D," Iwata said. "Nintendo 3DS will be the most connected Nintendo device ever, with its ability to link people via local wireless connections, while at the same time connecting them to people and content worldwide via hotspot connectivity."

Nintendo's aim is to make getting connected easy for everyone, so people who opt in to the system's SpotPass service will tell their Nintendo 3DS systems to automatically connect to AT&T Hot Spots at restaurants, book stores, coffee shops and airports across the country.

At the end of May, Nintendo will provide Nintendo 3DS owners with a wireless system update that will activate the Nintendo eShop and give users access to a number of features. A short-form video service will let people view trailers for Hollywood movies in 3D and access video game trailers, screen shots, background information and links to publishers' websites. Content will include short video clips, such as comedy shorts or music videos, selected by Nintendo and delivered to Nintendo 3DS users who choose to receive them. An Internet browser will also be available.

Gamers will also be able to download classic games via the portable Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console service, including Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, as well as those from Sega's Game Gear and TurboGrafx-16 systems. There will also be 3D Classics, classic video games remastered in 3D. Consumers will also have access to games currently offered as Nintendo DSiWare. Any games purchased via a current Nintendo DS portable digitally can be transferred to the new Nintendo 3DS for free.

Iwata also announced that Shigeru Miyamoto is working on a brand new 3D Super Mario game for Nintendo 3DS, which will feature traditional Mario gameplay. The game is being developed by the same Nintendo team that created the Wii console hits Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Nintendo has a booth at GDC 2011 to meet with developers looking to take advantage of the Nintendo 3DS and its 3D capabilities and digital distribution options that connect directly to consumers.

Nintendo 3DS, which has been sold out since it launched in Japan last week, will debut in the U.S. with 18 launch titles. Nintendo will have games like Pilotwings Resort, Steel Diverand nintendogs + catsfrom its internal studios. Third-party support includes games like EA Sports' Madden NFL Football, Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Shadow Wars, Capcom's Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, LucasArts' LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Warsand Electronic Arts' The Sims 3. More than 30 games will be available for Nintendo 3DS by early June.