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.