Nintendo Wii's friend code approach to online multiplayer in games like Mario Kart has been a huge let down. It doesn't give us the ability to make a friends list or even see what games our friends are playing. Thankfully, it looks like Nintendo is finally catching up with Xbox LIVE and PSN, as Satoru Iwata confirmed the infrastructure is already in place for a new “Nintendo Network” during a recent investor presentation.
"Unlike Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which has been focused upon specific functionalities and concepts, we are aiming to establish a platform where various services available through the network for our consumers shall be connected via Nintendo Network service so that the company can make comprehensive proposals to consumers," said Iwata.
The new service, which will be available for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, will allow “competition and communication” between players and will also act as a source for paid DLC. On the Wii U players will also be able to create multiple user accounts on a single console.
Another interesting bit of info mentioned during the presentation was the idea of full retail game downloads. Nintendo hasn't said whether or not this something they will do for sure, but Iwata did reveal that they now have the ability to do it. Retailer relationships and SD card storage limitations would have to be considered before a decision is made.
The new Nintendo Network should launch by the end of the year, in time for the new Wii U console, but its still not clear whether the two will launch at the same time.