Over 850,000 unique users have connected to Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection online gaming service for the Nintendo DS handheld since it launched in November, the company has announced, with over 20 million total connections registered.
The service, which is supported by titles including Mario Kart DS and Tony Hawk's American Sk8land, is provided for free and allows users to connect wirelessly either at home, or at a variety of public hot-spots.
According to Nintendo, there are now more than 20,000 of those hot-spots spread around Europe, thanks to deals with companies including BT Openzone (Britain), Telefonica (Spain), Meteor (France), T-Mobile (Netherlands) and The Cloud (Britain and Scandinavia).
"Our aim is to provide a free Wi-Fi service that is simple to use and accessible to everyone," according to Nintendo of Europe's new marketing director, Laurent Fischer. "We have over 20,000 free Nintendo Wi-Fi hotspots in place across Europe, ranging from airports, coffee shops, bars and hotels, and already over 850,000 people globally are using our service."
More major titles supporting Wi-Fi Connection are on the horizon, including Animal Crossing: Wild World, which was Japan's biggest-selling game last year and appears in Europe on March 31st, and Metroid Prime Hunters, which launches on May 5th and will be the first game to support voice chat over the service. Ubisoft's LOSTMAGIC title is set to be the first RPG to support the service, later this spring.
Wi-Fi Connection isn't just limited to the Nintendo DS, however; the service will also be used by the Nintendo Revolution console when it launches later this year, with Nintendo undoubtedly hoping that the fact that many DS owners will have configured their home networks for the service already will ease the process of bringing the new console online.
The potential spanner in the works, in the UK at least, is the continuing poor availability of Nintendo's own Wi-Fi USB adapter. The adapter is designed to allow people without their own wireless networks to create a simple network correctly configured for the DS, but many major retailers are not carrying the unit at present.