After years of adamantly refusing to move into the online-gaming business, Nintendo has finally discovered the Internet.

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After years of adamantly refusing to move into the online-gaming business, Nintendo has finally discovered the Internet.

The company announced yesterday its next-generation video-game console, code-named Revolution, will have built-in technology for players to connect to wireless Internet networks.

The console will be able to play new games as well as ones produced for its GameCube system, which debuted in 2001.

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Nintendo, whose North American headquarters are in Redmond, also said it will launch a free service this year that connects its handheld DS devices over wireless networks.

One of the first games to use this capability will be a new version of “Animal Crossing,” a popular game that chronicles the adventures of animals in a village.

“We intend to incorporate wireless technology in all we do,” said President Satoru Iwata, according to a transcript of his speech yesterday at an annual game-developers conference in San Francisco.

The announcement signaled a strategy shift for Nintendo, which previously said online gaming wasn’t profitable enough to warrant the investment.

The company changed its mind after reducing the costs necessary to get online, said Reggie Fils-Aime, an executive vice president at Nintendo of America.

“What we have worked through is a cost-effective way to create the infrastructure and a cost-effective way to provide this gaming experience to the consumer,” he said in an interview yesterday.

“Once we were able to overcome those technological hurdles, it made it a much more straightforward decision.”

The company also announced its Revolution console will use a processing chip developed with IBM and a graphics chipset developed with ATI, and it promised the technology will deliver a game experience not possible to date.

Nintendo hasn’t said when it will release its new console. Analysts expect it to hit stores sometime next year.

The company also said yesterday it has shipped 4 million DS devices in Japan and North America since the two-screen handheld game player debuted late last year.

Nintendo, which has been criticized for not having enough games for the DS, yesterday released a list of about 45 DS titles scheduled to launch within the next year.

They include versions of “Frogger,” “Metroid Prime Hunters” and “Finding Nemo.”

Kim Peterson: 206-464-2360 or kpeterson@seattletimes.com