Nintendo has announced that more than 15,000 Wi-Fi Connection hotspots will be active in time for the European launch of the service - a figure which is set to almost double by the end of the year.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, senior director of marketing Jim Merrick said: "We've been on the sidelines of online gaming for a long time, because we just didn't see the right combination of value for the consumer and technology and gameplay."
"Now I think the time is right. We talked about the promise of Wi-Fi when we first introduced the DS, and now we can show you what Nintendo's vision of online gaming is."
More than half of the hotspots will be in the UK alone, thanks to deals with BT Openzone and The Cloud. Piggybacking their infrastructure, Wi-Fi Connection will allow gamers to play Wi-Fi-enabled multiplayer games like Tony Hawk's American Sk8land (Nov 18) and Mario Kart DS (Nov 25) from a vast number of locations.
These will include branches of McDonald's and Coffee Republic, Hilton and Ramada Jarvis hotels, Road Chef and Welcome Break service stations, First Great Western railway stations, more than 25 student unions, city centre BT payphones, airports, football stadiums, the British Library and Canary Wharf.
Nintendo will be launching a new website, Nintendo Wi-Fi.com, where visitors can input a postcode to find the location of their nearest hotspot. The site will also give gamers the chance to see how their high scores compare with other players, and will offer technical support - those with wireless networks at home will be able to search a database of more than 200 routers for advice on configuration.
Those who don't have a home wireless network will be able to purchase the Wi-Fi USB Connector dongle, which attaches to a PC, to get their DS online. It will retail for around GBP 30.
Nintendo is keen to stress that there are no fees or subscription costs for playing, and no risk of harassment as players do not directly communicate with each other.
Instead of entering a name and password, each DS owner has a unique identifier number entered into the DS's memory. Users can swap numbers offline to build up a friends list, or play anonymously against gamers from all around the world.
Wi-Fi Connection will launch in Europe on November 25. Nintendo has confirmed that its next-generation console, codenamed Revolution, will also make use of the service.