Nintendo has announced it is launching an online service called Nintendo Network which will be available to 3DS users and then extended to the Wii U when it is launched later this year.

At an investor presentation, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata unveiled the new service, the logo for which had already mysteriously appeared on the Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy game box.

Iwata said the service will include "competitions and communication among users, as well as the sales of digital content," for both the current 3DS handheld console and the soon to be released Wii U.

Multiple user accounts

The Wii U offering will also have support for personal user accounts, compared to the current system where software is tied to a single hardware system rather than the user who bought it.

This differs vastly from the rather limited Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection currently available to the original Wii console, and will allow communication between users for the first time.

Iwata also spoke of "Community" matches for Mario Kart 7.

The Nintendo Network could not only serve up add-on content, but also whole games as well: "this concept was built into the design of the Nintendo 3DS, and we already have the necessary infrastructure," Iwata said.

That same infrastructure is being cooked up for the Wii U, but as yet there is no firm release date for its launch.

Can't wait for the Wii U? Techradar has all the latest details on the Wii U and a Nintendo Wii U hands-on review to scratch that itch.

From Nintendo via Joystiq