Nintendo Co. announced new wireless features for its DS portable video game player Thursday, including a free service that will let consumers beam game demos and other content directly to the device.
Beginning in late March, the company plans to deploy electronic kiosks at thousands of U.S. retailers including Best Buy Co. Inc. and GameStop Corp.
Owners of the dual-screen DS who go near the kiosks will automatically receive a notice on their devices offering game demos, movie trailers and other content for temporary download. The information will be erased from the DS once it's turned off.
The service uses the DS's local-area wireless networking capabilities, which until now had been used just to facilitate head-to-head play by gamers near each other.
Nintendo also said it was adding voice chat to the sci-fi action game "Metroid Prime: Hunters," available March 20. Players who join up for multiplayer battles over Nintendo's wireless Internet service will be able to talk to each other through the system's built-in microphone before and after games, but not during, said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America Inc.'s executive vice president of sales and marketing.
At least one game for rival Sony Corp.'s PlayStation Portable offers a more robust feature. Teammates in "SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo" can talk to each other wirelessly during battles.
Fils-Aime added that a slimmed down, all-white Nintendo DS Lite would go on sale in Japan next month.
Handheld video games and hardware helped buoy the industry to record sales of $10.5 billion in 2005, according to the NPD Group research firm.
Nintendo said it has sold about 4 million DS systems in North America since it was launched in late 2004. Another 4 million PlayStation Portables have been sold in North America since the unit went on sale last March, according to Sony.