Facebook and Apple better watch out for Nintendo 3DS' social features

Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo has been the most successful of the Big Three--the others being Sony and Microsoft--this time around in both gaming consoles and handhelds, but the company claims that it's more threatened by Apple's iPhone and Facebook games like FarmVille. But have no fear, the 3DS is here... in March, Nintendo's hopeful ace in the hole. And while the 3DS' flagship feature is obviously 3D without the glasses, Nintendo thinks that the system's social features like StreetPass will be what puts the dual-screen handheld ahead of the rest, the Wall Street Journal reports.

StreetPass is a feature that will allow 3DS systems to communicate, exchanging player and game data, even when they're dormant. Not to mention that it will allow gamers--complete strangers even--to play with one another, but there's a catch: WiFi.

Yep, the 3DS' StreetPass only works while in a WiFi hot spot, according to WSJ. Granted that will work beautifully in densely populated areas like Tokyo, but what about middle America, Canada or Europe? Even the most crowded cities in the U.S. aren't up to speed with nations like Japan and Korea when it comes to wireless Internet access. While 3G connectivity is an option, either players would have to pay a monthly fee much like Xbox LIVE or Nintendo would be forced to jack the price up well beyond the expected $250 to $300 for permanent 3G access (similar to the Amazon Kindle option). The company has already expressed its disinterest in forcing its customers to pay a monthly fee, so why the confidence?

Could Nintendo have another solution up its sleeve to compete the unchecked growth of social games and the mobile games renaissance? According to WSJ, its current plan is to add more WiFi hot spots for the 3DS to communicate with--but all over the globe? (We doubt it.) Could Nintendo even hope to compete with the mobile and social gaming titans with StreetPass? Only time will tell, but this is Nintendo we're talking about, so who knows what they might be cooking up. In other words, best be on your toes, Zynga and Apple.

[Image Credit: Associated Press]

Do you think the Nintendo 3DS will be able to compete with iPhone and social gaming? Are you more interested in the 3DS' social features or glasses-free 3D? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.