McDonald's and Nintendo in Wi-Fi Deal
By ERIC A. TAUB
New York Times, 10/18/05
Would you like Mario
with that Big Mac?
Nintendo of America is expected to announce today
that it will offer free wireless Internet access
for its Nintendo DS portable game system at
McDonald's restaurants. Customers will be able to
play select DS games with other players around the
McDonald's offers wireless Internet, or Wi-Fi,
access to laptop users for a fee in 6,000
restaurants nationwide, but the free Nintendo
arrangement will permit the DS machines to play
without a laptop.
The DS is the latest game system to offer online
play. Both Sony and Microsoft have long promoted
the online game-playing features of their game
Sony's PlayStation Portable, the main competitor
to the Nintendo DS, also offers wireless online
"This is such an interesting direction for
McDonald's," said Anita Frazier, an entertainment
industry analyst with the NPD Group, a research
firm. "This could encourage kids to go to
McDonald's to play games. It is like the kids'
version of Starbucks' wireless hot spots." As with
the toys that have long been packaged with
McDonald's food, the relationship will help draw
customers to the restaurants, she said.
Released in November, the Nintendo DS has sold 2.2
million units in the United States, NPD says.
Sony's PlayStation Portable, available since
March, has sold two million.
Wireless access for the DS will be provided by
Wayport of Austin, Tex., which supplies Wi-Fi to
McDonald's. Nintendo will pay Wayport an
undisclosed fee for the service.
Wayport expects to have Wi-Fi in around 7,000
McDonald's outlets in America by June, said Dan
Lowden, Wayport's vice president for business
development and marketing.
The online game service will begin next month with
two titles: Mario Kart DS and Tony Hawk's American
SK8Land. Two other games, Animal Crossing: Wild
World and Metroid Prime Hunters, will be available
by the end of the year.
While DS users can now send text messages and
pictures wirelessly to other users, "we have no
plans to move that into Wi-Fi," said Perrin
Kaplan, a vice president at Nintendo of America .
"There are so many other ways that people can
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