Nintendo knows that one area it needs to improve on is its online strategy, and in particular, the online functionality of its range of hardware. With the upcoming 3DS, the company is hoping to improve on several areas that its been lacking in in recent years: one example is a more accessible and user-friendly online shop. At the heart of many improvements that need to be made, convenience is a crucial aspect and there's nothing more inconvenient than Nintendo's current Friend Codes system. President of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime explained why the 3DS will need to use a variant of it.
Speaking to MTV Multiplayer, Fils-Aime spoke about how the 3DS will only require gamers to have a single Friend Code that's tied to the system, as opposed to the current model of separate codes for each game. When asked why Nintendo opted for this kind of method over parental controls that manage buddy lists to prevent their children from interacting with strangers, or a type of username that's easier to remember and input for the older gamers, Fils-Aime replied:
The thing that we've learned is that there are some games that you want to battle head to head, but you don't want to necessarily want that other player to have full access to the space. Probably the best example is something like Animal Crossing. We may want to trade items in Animal Crossing, but do I really want the potential for you to come into my town and maybe disrupt it in some way? That's what Friend Codes are all about. There are certain games where Friend Codes are important. There are other games where, because of the head to head nature of the gameplay, it really isn't necessary.
So Friend Codes have been implemented to essentially offer more security for Nintendo gamers, but it's likely that the system will be similar to the current codes which are consisted of a string of numbers. Trading Friend Codes isn't as convenient as it could be, which is just as well we only need to input them once, that is... unless we lose our 3DS:
In terms of what happens if you lose your system, in terms of digital content, as we've announced, there's the ability to transfer digital content on to a new system, because we'll have the ability to go back and see what your account was and what you had purchased. In terms of what else you might have lost, that's really tough to answer in a hypothetical.
Current Nintendo accounts only track gamers' download purchases and available Nintendo points, and since the 3DS Friend Codes are linked to the system and not the account, losing the hardware means gamers will have no other choice but to reenter all the Friend Codes that have been lost.
Although there will be fewer codes to handle when the 3DS launches, any subsequent future models like a hypothetical 3DS Lite will need to have all the Friend Codes reentered, and gamers will have to have their buddies reenter their codes on their system too. When asked if Nintendo has plans to implement a gamer account like Sony's and Microsoft's, where their respective Playstation Network and Xbox Live accounts track digital purchases, account balances, friends lists, a list of played games, and game achievements that aren't tied to the console itself, Fils-Aime offered the following:
Essentially if you want to communicate to others what you're playing, what you've done for a particular game, that's now going to be possible through things like StreetPass.
All well and good, but that still doesn't make data transfer between consoles any easier, does it? What can we learn from all this? Don't lose your consoles.