Nintendo bets big on 3DS social gaming

Glassless 3D is the big selling point for Nintendo’s upcoming 3DS, arriving in March. But Nintendo wants in on social gaming as well, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Nintendo says one of the new communication tools, StreetPass, finds and connects to a nearby 3DS machine even if the other party is a total stranger. The person doesn’t need to be using the 3DS at the time in order to wirelessly link up and share data with another 3DS machine in the vicinity using a Wi-Fi connection.

For example, Nintendo has showed a social network-like application called the StreetPass Plaza. On any given day, a 3DS owner may unknowingly cross paths with many other 3DS users. The virtual playpen displays a day’s encounters, each as an avatar with some basic but not too revealing information: the person’s screen name, the last game they played, when the “pass” took place and how many times the two have come across one another.

Problem is, the idea won’t work as well in the U.S. and Europe, because the population density is lower and public transportation is less frequently used than in Japan.

Sounds like a fun idea. But so did the original DS’s Tag Mode. So did GBA to GameCube connectivity. Think this has any legs, particularly outside of Japan and/or large metro areas?