Nintendo believes its history of multiplayer gaming features predates and is equivalent to the current interest in social network games.
President Satoru Iwata told investors last week that "It has been reported that social entertainment is the key to video games... Nintendo has been developing social entertainment in the field of video games for a long time.
"Social elements tend to be narrowly associated with human relationships through computer networks. We believe, however, that the essence of social entertainment is that the relationships with other human beings add a social nature to the play and make it more interesting.
Although Iwata appeared to be addressing the growth of titles such as FarmVille and Japan's phone-based MobageTown, he saw parallels with Nintendo in that "NES had two controllers from the start and Nintendo 64 was the first home console system to make four controllers available.
"The link cable for GameBoy allowed two players to compete in Tetris and later enabled the trades and competitions of Pokémon, and gradually these features were made available wirelessly. To Nintendo, social elements are nothing new at all."
He observed that "When you hear the term 'social network,' it generally means a service taking advantage of social human relationships through a constantly connected network with smart phones and PCs. In contrast, Nintendo appreciates real human relationships among people."
The 3DS' StreetPass and SpotPass features, which automatically arranges and even plays games with passers-by, played a part in Nintendo's ongoing social game strategy, he claimed, as well as "further expand[ing] the gaming population."
The company perhaps seems a little less interested in fuelling its social systems with download-based gaming however, having just announced that its eStore for 3DS has been pushed back to May.