Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection (typically abbreviated "WFC" or "NWC") was Nintendo's free online gaming service for the Nintendo DS, DSi, 3DS, and Wii consoles. It allowed users to take advantage of titles that support the service via a wireless router or the Nintendo USB Connector. This service also allowed a gamer to link his or her Wi-Fi Connection records to his or her My Nintendo account, and track your scores on Nintendo's official Wi-Fi Connection website.
On February 26, 2014, it was announced that on May 20th of the same year, at 10:30 p.m. EST, the service will be discontinued, meaning that it is no longer possible to use the online features of the Nintendo DS, DSi, 3DS, and Wii such as online play without the use of custom servers. Despite this, the Wii Shop Channel and Nintendo DSi Shop carried on operating for some time, but they have also since been discontinued in March 2017.
On the Nintendo DS, each game card generates a 'friend code' which can be exchanged with other owners of the same game in order to engage in online play with that person. Some titles that utilize the Wi-Fi Connection support random match-ups, but a few titles only allow online play between users who have swapped and registered their respective friend codes.
On the Wii, friend codes are apparently only used for online play and information exchange when Nintendo DS-Wii Connectivity is involved. Otherwise, each Wii console utilizes its own, built-in Wii Number. Those who have exchanged Wii Numbers are allowed to play against each other in any title that does not utilize the aforementioned "friend code" system.
On the Nintendo 3DS, there is one universal friend code for the console, much to the delight of consumers who criticized the choice to have a unique code to insert for each video game.
For a long time since their inception though, the friend codes were a controversial feature thas been the source of numerous complaints throughout the gaming community, with many pointing out that such a system had destroyed the potential for an online Nintendo community due to its restrictiveness.
- In little over two months after the launching of the service, the Wi-Fi Connection racked in three million connections through 500,000 unique users. Over a million gamers logged in to play at its release.
- On the first two Wi-Fi games ever (Mario Kart DS and Tony Hawk American Sk8teland) the Wi-Fi logo was printed on the left bottom corner on the game box rather than the top left corner which it has been printed on all the other Wi-Fi games since.
- Some Nintendo DS games feature a secret button. To access this button, you must load a Wi-Fi configuration and tap the left top corner with the stylus. A secret button will blink for a second and a secret screen shows up.