Taking up the fight with Sony Corp.’s recently released PlayStation Portable, Nintendo Co. plans to bring online multiplayer action to its own handheld gaming system.
Users of the Nintendo DS, which was launched in mid-November, can already connect to up to fifteen other players, but only if they’re in the vicinity. Later this year, Nintendo plans to make it possible for users to connect through Wi-Fi “hot spots” and play each other over the Internet.
Internet play will only work with certain games, now in development. Nintendo of America spokeswoman Perrin Kaplan said games that will allow online play include “Animal Crossing DS,” set for release November 21.
Nintendo has tapped IGN Entertainment to create the network that will connect players. Its network already handles PC and console video games.
Sony’s PSP, which went on sale in the United States in March, comes with an online multiplayer feature out of the box. Its Wi-Fi capability even makes it possible for savvy users to surf the Internet on their PSP.
The PSP is seen as a strong challenger to Nintendo’s Game Boy series of portable game machines, of which the DS is the latest incarnation.
At $150 a pop, Nintendo has sold more than 5 million DS units worldwide. But the PSP, which costs $100 more, took over the limelight with its all-in-one entertainment system that allows players to watch movies, listen to music, play games and view photos. Since late March, Sony has sold more than 1 million units in North America and shipped almost 3 million units worldwide.