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Nintendo Zone was a download service and an extension of the DS Download Station. It allowed users to access various content, including third-party data, via hotspots featured at several retailers, such as McDonald's and Best Buy. Nintendo Zones had demos of upcoming and released games and sometimes location-specific content. There was a Nintendo Zone application for the Nintendo DSi and the Nintendo 3DS. For the latter console, the application was released in North America on December 8, 2011 and in Europe shortly after on April 25, 2012.
When the service debuted, users could also connect to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and Nintendo DSi Shop. In collaboration with McDonald's, the service originated in the Kantō, Chūkyō and Kansai regions of Japan. In the United States, Nintendo Zone was made initially available at the Nintendo World Store on November 14, 2008, and owners of Pokémon Diamond Version or Pearl Version could receive a special Pikachu that knows the move Present. In a 2010 Nintendo conference, prior to the Nintendo 3DS's launch, it is shown that over 1,000 DS Download Stations in Japan would be converted into Nintendo Zones to enable SpotPass communications, specifically via the Nintendo 3DS.
On December 8, 2011, a Nintendo 3DS system update in North America included a Nintendo Zone application that that allowed users to access new Nintendo Zones through a variety of hotspots. There were over 29,000 Nintendo Zone hotspots in North America at the time, and among them were 42 airports that had Boingo Wireless service. When Nintendo Zone was introduced in Europe on April 25, 2012, the service could be accessed from over 25,000 locations.
In July 2013, Nintendo announced that Nintendo Zone would receive StreetPass enhancements. The StreetPass Relay Points system was introduced as part of an firmware update to Nintendo 3DS consoles in August 2013; this meant that whenever a 3DS owner visited a Nintendo Zone location, their StreetPass data would be stored there then transferred when another owner visited with the same games. The viewer would always remain on even if it is out range of a Nintendo Zone.
In December 2013, a new feature was added on in celebration of National StreetPass Weekend. This feature combined all Nintendo Zones within North America into one and allowed users who come across a Nintendo Zone to StreetPass and exchange data with other 3DS users from all around the continent, as opposed to only those 3DS users who have passed by that specific zone. Through this feature, users were able to StreetPass a maximum of 6 users at a time from other parts of North America. This feature helped raise awareness about Nintendo Zone and what it could offer to 3DS users. It encouraged 3DS users to access a nearby zone in order to meet users from other parts of the continent and to gather more StreetPass relay points. Through this feature, many users were able to exchange information and gameplay items with other users. It also encouraged interaction between Nintendo 3DS users who own the same game to initiate item exchanges that each of the users could keep once the events concluded.
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- Satoru Iwata (October 2, 2008). "Nintendo Conference Fall 2008". Nintendo.
- Nintendo.com (November 14, 2008). "Nintendo Zone test service will be available at the Nintendo World store beginning November 14, 2008" (Wayback Machine).
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- Gamespress (April 25, 2012). "STAY CONNECTED WITH NINTENDO ZONE – EVEN ON THE GO". MCV (Wayback Machine). Retrieved August 30, 2022.
- Nintendo Press Release (July 18, 2013). "EarthBound is Now Available; Enhancements to Nintendo Zone Announced". Reuters (Wayback Machine). Retrieved August 30, 2022.
- Pereira, Chris (August 6, 2013). "3DS Update Introduces StreetPass Relay Points". IGN. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
- McMinn, Kevin (December 12, 2013). "Get Ready For National StreetPass Weekend Beginning This Saturday". Nintendo News (Wayback Machine). Retrieved August 30, 2022.
- Whitehead, Thomas (December 6, 2013). "Nintendo of America Announces StreetPass Weekend and Nintendo Zone Shake-Up". Nintendo Life. Retrieved August 30, 2022.