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3DS auto-updates will tackle piracy

And push new features to lazy users who usually don't bother

Beware, pirates. Nintendo says it's considering enabling automatic firmware updates with 3DS' SpotPass feature.

Nintendo says an auto-update function would not just be handy for countering any piracy on the next-gen machine, but would also push new features to the huge number of users who, on current consoles, don't bother with the manual updating process.

"As one of the functions of SpotPass, we are considering to automatically update the hardware through the network," Iwata told investors recently.

"Countermeasures against piracy are not the only purpose, of course. For example, so far, when we try to offer some new attractive function, our consumers first have to turn on the subject game system and go through a manual procedure in order to download and install the system update.

"As a result, not so many people were willing to update their hardware. ... So, we want to make it so that Nintendo 3DS hardware shall be (automatically) updated through the network ... for as many consumers as possible to be able to make use of the new functions that we propose."

Iwata threw another nice nugget of 3DS info in there, and since we're gobbling them all up right now... "Nintendo 3DS will also have a function so that, when a consumer purchases new (packaged) software, that software ROM card will be able to initiate the device's system update."

This means Nintendo will package firmware on the cartridge with games for offline users to use. But this would take up space on the cart, which only holds 2GBs of data - the same as current DS carts and PSP UMDs - according to announcements, which is somewhat small for games of the 3DS' capabilities.

But this looks set to change. "We expect a significant increase in the ROM memory capacity for Nintendo 3DS software, so much so that such programs can be added. With that, we can offer some new proposals to users and, at the same time, it can be used to prevent piracy."

Nintendo insists that piracy isn't solely to blame for this year's significant decline in DS software sales.