Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection

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The worldwide Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection logo


The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection (abbreviated WFC) was Nintendo's online match making service used by specific games on a Nintendo system specifically designed to make use of the service. While the system itself is very capable as far as actual matches are concerned, the manner in which it was designed severely limits the creation of an online community. Both the Nintendo DS and Wii and their variations made use of the service. The system was terminated on May 20th, 2014,[1] and was succeeded by Nintendo Network and then Nintendo Switch Online for Nintendo Switch.

Utilizing the service[edit]

When creating the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, Nintendo aimed to remove the barriers faced by users when attempting to play games online. The system was free, and Nintendo made no indication that it would charge in the future. Secondly, the system was designed to be easy to use.

Logging in[edit]

It has been requested that this section be rewritten.

The Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector is for players without routers

Players must have a wireless access point or hotspot, typically a wireless router. The router’s settings may need to be adjusted to accept the system as well. The first time a player connects, a connection file is saved on the system using a step-by-step process. After the router and the Nintendo system connect successfully, the player can log in at any time. Common problems faced by first-time users include firewalls and parental controls.

In an attempt to widen the user base, Nintendo released the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector. This device connects Nintendo hardware to the Internet, through the user's Microsoft Windows computer and an available USB port.[2] This is particularly useful for players without wireless routers or home routers using the WPA or WPA2 wireless security standards, when the Nintendo DS and games are only compatible with WEP.[3] This excludes Nintendo DSi-enhanced titles, such as Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!, but requires the player to be playing on a Nintendo DSi. The Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo DSi, and Nintendo 3DS can connect with the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector, but the Wii U cannot.

A player could link a Nintendo DS to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection services at McDonald's restaurants with the service for free.[4] When no other option is available, it is also possible for a computer connected to the Internet to create a hotspot.

Wii LAN Adapter

The Wii can also be connected to the Internet with a wired LAN connection. For this, the Wii LAN Adapter has to be bought separately. It is plugged into one of the USB ports at the back of the Wii and offers a port for LAN cables. This can cause confusion with the term of a similar name because the adapter bypasses the need to look for a hotspot. "Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection" was selected as the name the Wii was still in development, and the Nintendo DS did not have LAN support. The Wii LAN Adapter is also supported by the Wii U, Nintendo Switch, and even PC (with driver).


Once logged into the service, the game system took players to the online lobby of the video game they were playing. Since there are no user accounts, Nintendo used Friend Codes and Wii System Codes. Friend Codes were automatically assigned to a game when it connected to Nintendo WFC for the first time. Each Friend Code is unique and it is impossible for two game units to have identical Friend Codes. In fact, each Friend Code is a 32 bit number and the games extend it with a 7 bit checksum to a total of 39 bits[5]. The player could not alter the Friend Code in any way, and the only way to get a new one was to delete save data on the game unit and connect to Nintendo WFC again. The player could register codes and usernames of another player using Nintendo WFC. Wii System Codes work in a similar manner but are exclusive to the Wii console's messaging service.

While each game made different use of the system, there are typical options for Wi-Fi enabled games. In Worldwide play, games were matched with a random player from anywhere around the globe. Regional play allowed players to battle other players with the same regional version of the game. Rivals mode paired players of similar skill levels. Friends mode allowed players to compete against other players with whom they have exchanged their Friend or Wii System Codes. This mode often includes more features, including voice chat.

Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection-compatible titles[edit]

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Mario franchise[edit]

Screenshot of an ongoing Wi-Fi race in Mario Kart DS. The icon at the bottom-right indicates the connection's strength.

A handful of Mario games utilized this feature. The following list is in order of releases.

Yoshi's Island DS would have also had Wi-Fi capabilities, but the feature was scrapped for unknown reasons.



One of the Nintendo DS Lite's main selling points was its ability to utilize the service

Nintendo’s online plans for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, and Nintendo 64 ultimately failed to create a reliable online system that would serve Nintendo for as long as it desired. When the Nintendo GameCube was released, it technically had the ability to go online with the use of the Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter, but Nintendo left it up to developers to create a reliable service. When the GameCube's rivals, the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, supported flourishing online services in 2002, many critics attacked Nintendo for having an archaic view of online games.

In May 2004, rumors began to circulate that Nintendo would be launching an online service. Finally, Satoru Iwata gave the big announcement on March 10, 2005 at the 2005 Game Developers Conference. He stated that the service would be free and connecting to the service would be easy. However, it was not until May of that year at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo that the service was given an official name, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Pairing with IGN Entertainment to utilize the already active GameSpy match-making service, Nintendo was able to give the WFC the match-making ability without the use of servers. The big issue behind most other online plans is the operation of servers. However, Nintendo sidestepped this problem by giving the Nintendo DS the ability to connect with one another without the use of the service after match-making was complete. Yet, this created a new problem. If a company wishes to expand online features beyond match-making, they are forced to manage their own network. This means that massively multiplayer online games are not compatible with Nintendo's service as it stands.

On November 14, 2005, the system went public with the North American releases of the Nintendo DS titles, Mario Kart DS from Nintendo and Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land. The release of another Nintendo DS title, Animal Crossing: Wild World, followed shortly after.

Nintendo of America paired with Wayport in an effort to increase the user base of the connection. Through their partnership, Nintendo was able to utilize the Internet hotspots at all compatible McDonald's restaurants throughout the United States. Players could then log onto WFC for free by simply playing at one of the restaurants in the same way they could play in their homes. In other public areas that offered Wi-Fi services, however, the Nintendo DS required a personal computer or laptop to create a hotspot for it.

Less than four months after its November 14, 2005 release, the service had seen more than a million specific users worldwide, with over 27 million connections. On March 30, 2007, Nintendo announced that over 5 million unique users and over 200 million sessions.

While the Wii had utilized the connection since its release for software updates and WiiConnect24, its first online game was released by Nintendo of Japan on December 14, 2006, Pokémon Battle Revolution. Soon after, Nintendo of Europe released Mario Strikers Charged on May 25, 2007. Nintendo of America brought the American Wii online on June 25, 2007 with the release of the localized Pokémon Battle Revolution. In South Korea, the first game using Wi-Fi Connection was Rayman Raving Rabbids 2.

Originally, Nintendo did not have any plans to cease the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for either the Wii or the Nintendo DS, though is connected to Glu Mobile buying out IGN's GameSpy in August 2012, along with GameSpy shutting down its service platform on May 31, 2014. This may have been because of the overwhelming popularity of both consoles and that neither received an update feature to their systems via the same service to make use of the Nintendo Network instead. It is worth noting that both Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii were the most popular games played online on their respected systems, which is probably another reason why the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection didn't receive a discontinuation date yet.

In 2014, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service was discontinued for the Wii, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo DSi. The date is different in different countries; for example, it was discontinued in West Europe on June 8, 2014[6]. This includes online play, matchmaking, and leaderboards.

Name in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese ニンテンドーWi-Fiコネクション
Nintendō Wai-Fai Konekushon
In Japanese, "Wi-Fi" is written as: ワイファイ

Chinese 任天堂Wi-Fi連接 (Traditional)
任天堂Wi-Fi连接 (Simplified)
Rèntiāntáng Wúxiàn Wǎngluò Liánjiē
In Chinese, "Wi-Fi" is written as: 無線網絡 (Traditional) / 无线网络 (Simplified).

Korean 닌텐도 Wi-Fi 커넥션
Nintendo Wai-Pai Keonegsyeon
In Korean, "Wi-Fi" is written as: 와이파이.

Spanish Conexión Wi-Fi de Nintendo


External links[edit]

Official websites[edit]