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Gamespy doing DS network

A free online gaming service.

IGN GameSpy is to make its first step into the portable gaming market by licensing its technology to Nintendo, which has announced plans to set up a wireless gaming network for Nintendo DS owners.

The service will be extremely user-friendly, says Nintendo, requiring minimum set-up and allowing gamers to choose whether to play against friends or strangers, on the same street or on the other side of the world.

No subscription fee will be charged "whether users hook up using a home broadband Wi-Fi connection or access a Wi-Fi hotspot at a coffee shop, library or elsewhere," according to Nintendo US sales and marketing VP, Reggie Fils-Aime.

Nintendo has yet to reveal the full range of titles that will make use of the service, but says it will do so over the coming weeks.

GameSpy general manager Mark Stieglitz says IGN is honoured to be chosen as Nintendo's middleware partner.

"We're excited to bring the technology that powers more than 300 PC and console videogames to Nintendo's innovative wireless platform," he commented.

"Now developers can easily and confidently add advanced matchmaking, community and other multiplayer services to their Nintendo DS games."

The news follows a recent announcement by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata that the company intends to set up 1000 new Wi-Fi hot spots across Japan to support the DS online service there.

Although the service will also be free to use, he said, third-party publishers will have the option to charge subscription fees for certain titles, such as massively multiplayer online role-playing games.

Iwata also revealed that the DS will connect wirelessly to the next-gen Revolution console, but did not disclose what benefits this will offer.

More details and launch dates for the online service are expected to be announced at Nintendo's pre-E3 conference on May 17.