Officials from Nintendo of America have announced that they have signed an agreement with Internet access provider Wayport to enable free Wi-Fi access for the Nintendo DS at nearly 6,000 McDonald's fast food restaurants in the U.S.
"By enabling Nintendo DS customers to access Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection via our Wi-Fi World network and business model at McDonald's, we are continuing to drive more customers to the restaurants we serve and increase the relevancy of Wi-Fi to a broader customer base," said Dave Vucina, CEO of Wayport. "Nintendo is a pioneer in providing a new way for their customers to play the games they want to while away from home or the office, and McDonald's is the perfect venue based on their ubiquity and accessibility."
Nintendo's first Wi-Fi compatible game will be Mario Kart DS, launching on November 14th, to be followed this year by Animal Crossing: Wild World and Activision's Tony Hawk's American SK8Land. Nintendo and Wayport claim that users will be able to launch and play these games at participating McDonald's without the need for any network set-up procedures.
Access at home can be gained via a wireless network or by using the recently unveiled Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector, which creates a wireless access point on any broadband enabled PC. Nintendo of America have announced that, at least in the U.S., the device will be available exclusively from Nintendo.com. Wi-Fi access outside the home or participating McDonald's restaurants can be achieved by using a laptop computer and the Wi-Fi USB Connector, where the console will need to share an Internet connection established by the laptop.
Wayport operates 10,000 wireless locations across 28 different countries, including major hotels in the US and Europe, various airports and airport business centers and Hertz rental offices. There is however no indication as yet that Nintendo will seek to extend its arrangement with the company outside of McDonald's restaurants, however.
Nintendo has also previously implied that it will set-up Wi-Fi access points at video game retail stores, but if this is part of the company's plans it does not appear to be covered by the initial announcement of this new Wayport deal. In Japan, Nintendo has partnered with the Japanese firm Buffalo to both help construct the Wi-Fi USB Connector and to offer the service at more than 1,000 Japanese video game retailers.