Nintendo Of America Says Wii U Online IDs Aren't Locked To One Console Forever

Since the Wii U was released last month, it's been unclear whether Nintendo Network IDs -- the online username and profile for any Wii U owner who plays, communicates and shops online on the system -- is forever baked into the Wii U it is initially registered on.

Users are not given any tools to transfer their Nintendo Network ID from one Wii U to another, but there is a mention in Nintendo's Wii U documentation that the current locking of IDs to one machine is temporary:

That hasn't calmed the concerns of people worried that their Wii U's will break and that they'll forever lose their online profile. Nintendo has hinted to Kotaku that their service people can in fact transfer IDs, and finally they've been explicit about it.

"Nintendo of America's repair process includes the transferring of the Nintendo Network ID to a new Wii U console if a replacement system is needed," the company revealed to us in a statement e-mailed in response to our persistent questions about this.

So if you have a Wii U in America and it breaks, you'll need to send the Wii U in to Nintendo and your profile can be moved over. This is different than user IDs for devices such as iPads, Xbox 360s and PlayStation 3s, which allow Apple IDs, Gamertags and PSN IDs, respectively to be transferred from one machine to the next. That level of transferability, which is strangely merely forthcoming on the Wii U, is a standard seemingly everywhere else.

Nintendo provided us with that statement after I found a new, striking instance of Wii U user frustration. The message was written about on the Giant Bomb forums. In that instance, a UK-based Wii U user saw his console break, swapped it out through Amazon and only then realised he couldn't get the Nintendo Network ID he registered on his first, broken Wii U onto the new device.

The user, who did not respond to an interview request, posted what he says is a transcript of an online chat between him and Nintendo UK's outsourced customer service form. I've pasted an excerpt below. It's not pretty, but it's an excellent argument for Nintendo empowering Wii U users to control the movement of their Nintendo Network IDs from machine to machine ASAP. In this exchange, "Rosie" is Nintendo UK's outsources customer service. "You" is the angry customer:

Rosie: Indeed, I can confirm that Nintendo Network accounts can't be moved between consoles.

You: what if i had have bought eshop stuff?

You: thankfully thats not the case here but can't i have my username anymore?

Rosie: Then the original console with purchases would have to be returned to us so we could move the purchases. I am sorry to confirm that you cannot have the same username. [Note from Kotaku: Bear in mind that Nintendo of America told us that they can transfer Nintendo Network IDs.]

You: well i'm not happy about that is there someone i can talk to that can sort this out for me becasue atm its pointless me having this system without my username

Rosie: There is no one who can change this, there is no facility to move to your old account or delete the user name, the only option is to create a new account and user name.

You: thats not good enough

Rosie: I'm sorry to hear that but there is no other way.

You: it might seem like a small thing but i don't want a differnt username and its not my fault the system decided to break

You: i paid £300 for this expecting from nintendo all would be well and now its just turned into a joke

Rosie: I do understand what you are saying, however the only option is to make a new user name.

You: i don't want a new username i want mine i can give you the serial number of the broken console and you can check yourself

Rosie: As I said before there is no facility to move that account or delete the username.

You: its not impossible to do ps3 and xbox handle it just fine

Rosie: We have a different system to those companies.

If you've been able to get Nintendo to transfer your Nintendo Network ID from a broken Wii U to a new one, let us know below.


    that's ridiculous.
    from what Rosie is suggesting is that you have to send back your original console to them so they can 'transplant' it into a new console as if all the information wasn't digital anyway...

    There's an option. In the Wii U. For transferring an older NN ID to a new Wii U.

    I so hope that it can be transferred even if its by the repairing company, It would make me rest easy knowing that if the Wii U broke that the account could be transferred in some way. Although I think I won't need it, it would be nice to know its there.

    You: its not impossible to do ps3 and xbox handle it just fine
    Rosie: We have a different system to those companies.

    That there sums up exactly why it should work... it's not that Nintendo couldn't work it out, it's that they didn't want to. I think until there's confirmation of this feature in the future, I will not be buying anything on e-shop for fear of it being lost.

    By the sounds of it the transfer process was in reference to when you send in a console for repair and they send you a new one in return which they'll transfer the account to. So they have to physically have both consoles to perform a transfer.

      So if your console is stolen or misplaced then you're screwed?

        I think so. Its analogous to the guy who sold his original Wii U.

          Makes me wonder what the password/account recovery process is like if you were to sell your console to someone else on eBay or any other site online. The person buying it from you would end up knowing your name, email address and your postal address. Nintendo will need to have good security measures in place or at least have a way for you to notify them to deactivate your account easily.

    I don't understand why Nintendo has struggled so badly with this.

    You've had 7 years to look at Microsoft and to a lesser extent Sony, to get this right.

      Nintendo don't really look at the competition for inspiration, for better or worse they forge a path of their own. Bad online interaction is a result, but at least you know somebody can't hack your account they need to physically steal your console.

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