At its E3 analyst briefing yesterday, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata revealed the company's plans to revitalise sales of its handheld 3DS system in the US and Europe by fundamentally changing the way its StreetPass feature works.
Currently, StreetPass operates by exchanging game data between 3DS consoles in close proximity to each other. Iwata explained that while this works well in Japan, where, due to the large population density, people playing the same games on 3DS would run into each other often, in Europe and the United States, StreetPass is underutilised simply because there are less instances of chance meetings.
To counteract this, Nintendo plans to implement a new framework via a system update for the 3DS, which will allow StreetPass communication to take place indirectly, via so-called StreetPass relay stations — basically, online servers accessed through public Wi-Fi access points. This way, 3DS consoles communicate with and leave their game data on a server instead of interacting directly with another console, not only increasing the chances of the data being received by another 3DS, but also allowing the same data to be received by multiple consoles instead of just one.
In addition to updating StreetPass, Iwata also mentioned plans to "intensively release key first-party titles throughout this year," many of which are still unannounced, to let the 3DS gain momentum in all global markets. Known titles include some heavy hitters discussed at this year's E3, including Pokémon X/Y and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
Nintendo E3 Analyst Briefing - Presentation [Nintendo Japan]