As we've spoken about before, Nintendo's current attitude to downloadable games leaves quite a bit to be desired. The Nintendo Network ID system introduced with the Wii U is a step in the right direction, but the fact that purchases remain tied to a single piece of hardware is, in this day and age, unacceptable. Rivals such as Sony, Microsoft, Apple and Google all allow purchases to be installed on other systems to the one they were originally made on — it's just that Nintendo seems to be a little behind the curve on this score.
A story related to Kotaku by Nintendo fan Jon (second name withheld) highlights the absurdity of this situation. Jon is a massive fan of Nintendo, and happily splashed $400 on downloadable games during the lifespan of his Wii console. When it came to upgrading to the Wii U, he didn't hesitate — he picked one up and transferred over all his Wii downloads.
Sadly, the system Jon had was faulty, forcing him to return it to the store he purchased it from for a new one — a fairly standard reaction, one would think. However, what he should have done is contacted Nintendo instead. Because he didn't, when he switched on his replacement Wii U, he couldn't use his Nintendo Network ID, and therefore had lost $400 of downloads.
Jon got in touch with Nintendo — after all, his Club Nintendo ID was proof that he had paid money for the games and had a right to have access to them — and was eventually credited $200 on the Wii U eShop. You don't have to be an expert at maths to see that figure is half what Jon was really owed, and to make matters worse, he couldn't re-purchase the games because none of them are available on the Wii U eShop yet — they're all on the Wii Virtual Console and WiiWare marketplace, which uses a different digital currency.
You could argue that Jon was stupid for returning his Wii U when Nintendo has made it clear that system transfers can only be done by them, but that's beside the point; this kind of thing simply should not be happening in this day and age.
Kotaku contacted Nintendo for the official line, and was told:
Different companies take different approaches to preventing the resale of downloadable games. Anyone who experiences any issues with a Nintendo system or game should contact Nintendo Customer Service at 800-255-3700 or http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/index.jsp. Once a system has been sold or traded in, and the system is no longer in possession of the original owner, the downloadable content cannot be recovered.
It's all very well saying that different companies take different approaches, but the fact is that most of Nintendo's rivals seem to be aware that allowing users to tie their purchases to a transferable account rather than to the hardware itself is the proper thing to do. When you're expecting people to spend as much as $59.99 / £49.99 on a retail download, you really should give them some kind of assurance that they're not suddenly going to see that money evaporate before their very eyes in the event of their system being stolen, or becoming so broken that the data cannot be retrieved. Another key thing to remember is that people are more likely to spend cash on downloads if they know they will have access to them for the foreseeable future.
What are your thoughts on Jon's story? If you're sitting on hundreds of dollars of downloads, do you ever worry that you could lose it all? Or do you think that Nintendo has the right idea, and linking purchases to a single device helps reduce "the resale" of downloadable games? Vote in the poll and leave a comment to let us know.
Should Nintendo downloads be tied to a single piece of hardware? (567 votes)
I honestly don't care either way
Please login to vote in this poll.