Fri 7 Dec 2012
The new Nintendo Network ID system that debuted on the Wii U is a sign of progress for a company that has, historically, not shown a lot of savvy in setting up its online systems. The Wii U lets users connect up to 12 separate Nintendo Network IDs to a single system and use those IDs to easily connect with online friends and strangers. The new Wii U eShop includes many retail games for download on the same day they reach stores, and does away with the "Wii Points" virtual currency that characterized Nintendo's previous console. The company has even promised to roll out a cloud save feature sometime next year.
Given all of these improvements, it's a bit baffling that Nintendo is still caught in the past when it comes to the extremely limiting digital rights management system that ties downloaded game and content purchases to a single console.
As Nintendo's Wii U FAQ makes clear, "a Nintendo Network Account can only be used on the console where it was created." Thus, any games tied to that unique online ID will only work on the first system they're purchased and downloaded to. This is in essence the same setup that Nintendo used to protect downloaded Virtual Console and WiiWare games on the first Wii, a setup that not only utterly failed to stop piracy on the system but also caused headaches for many early Wii owners with faulty systems.