In discussion with The Wall Street Journal, Japanese cell phone provider, NTT DoCoMo, is in discussion with unnamed game console developers to embed 3G service in handheld consoles. Considering devices such as Amazon’s Kindle function over free 3G on the WhisperNet, this can be an option for players who want to be freed from the confines of WiFi.
All of this speculation points to the Nintendo 3DS. While nothing confirms that Nintendo will be offering an “always connected” 3G service for their users, the company was liberal in hinting toward a new method of online services for their users during last month’s E3 keynote. It’s even been hinted at as far back as last year. While we know that games and 3D films will be offered for download to the 3DS, as well as an improved connectivity service that will allow 3DS devices to interact without being powered on, we do not know if there will be an online service like Xbox Live or PSN, and we do not know if this service will be WiFi only. Clearly, there are many questions to be answered. Sony, too, could be in discussion with these wireless providers, although no information is known about the always rumored PSP2.
The biggest question, in the end, is about the price. While I am a huge proponent of 3G connectivity for games, I would want to know how much these devices would strain networks. Also, while downloads might not kill a network and keep costs low, if online play was offered over 3G, I strongly suspect that this service will not be a free one. As we close in upon the Japanese 3DS launch in less than 6 months, hopefully these questions will be answered.
Videogame-Device Makers in Talks About Portable 3G Connections [WSJ]