Don’t expect to get SwapNote’s internet functionality back; Nintendo thinks this is the best way of dealing with the problem.
If you’re a 3DS owner and you’ve become used to SwapNote, the service that lets you pass notes and pictures to other 3DS users, bid its online functionality a fond farewell. It’s gone, and it won’t be back. People have been using it to exchange offensive material – including photographs – something that Nintendo really doesn’t want, particularly given that many of its users are minors. “Nintendo has been investigating ways of preventing this,” says a Nintendo spokesman, “and determined it is best to stop the SpotPass feature of SwapNote because it allows direct exchange of photos and was actively misused.”
The service stops as of October 31, 2013, at 7 p.m. PT. SwapNote is a free Nintendo-created app that’s been going since 2011, intended to let users create 3D images and send them to friends. “You can snap a photo with the Nintendo 3DS Camera application and place it into your note,” says SwapNote’s information page. “If you took the photo in 3D, it will show up in 3D on the recipient’s system too.” You could also record up to five seconds of audio and add it to your note, a system feature that Nintendo might be regretting right about now.
SwapNote got its start when Nintendo asked its team to come up with something new for its downloadable software shop. “The idea for a picture diary came up,” says Daji Imai, Director of the SwapNote team, in an Iwata Asks segment. “It would be perfect for downloadable software, so I raised my hand and said I’d do it. And that’s how this project began.” It began as a kind of mini-diary, handwritten, the better to express the sender’s feelings since typeface was thought to be impersonal. The idea came from Imai’s sister’s experience with her baby; Imai wanted a kind of maternity record book, something that people like his sister could use to keep track of her child’s development.
“I hope the users will put it to unimagined uses,” said Satoshi Takenouchi, programmer not only of SwapNote but also its SpotPass functionality. “That was a goal from the start.” A sentiment that was echoed by other members of the team, but it’s unlikely they ever anticipated anything like this. There’s no indication that SwapNote’s SpotPass functionality is ever coming back; Nintendo’s already had its fingers burnt, and doesn’t seem keen for another go.