Nintendo Fan Is Unhappy With Nintendo’s $200 Solution To His $400 Wii U Problem

Nintendo Fan Is Unhappy With Nintendo’s $200 Solution To His $400 Wii U Problem

Jon is an enthusiastic Nintendo fan. He buys all of Nintendo’s systems. He buys many, many Nintendo games. But he’s gotten himself into a jam that he says has cost him access to more than $US400 worth of downloadable games he’s purchased from Nintendo over the several years.

How does one lose access to $US400 worth of games?

Unfortunately for Jon, who asked that I not use his last name but who was hoping some coverage might wake Nintendo up about this issue, it doesn’t seem to be that hard. It’s partially a result of Nintendo’s strict policies about downloadable games — policies that differ from other industry leaders such as Apple’s, and don’t seem set to change any time soon.

For several years, Jon used to download lots of old Virtual Console games to his Wii. He bought a bunch of Wii eShop games, too. Recently, with the enthusiasm any Nintendo fan has for a new Nintendo machine, he bought a Wii U. He set up a Nintendo ID on the system, transferred his Wii games to that Wii U and then discovered that he’d bought a lemon.

“My Wii U console would flash its red power light when I tried to turn it on,” he told me in an email. “I let it go for days, and kept trying. It just was not a reliable system.”

At that point, what Jon should have done was contacted Nintendo. He didn’t. He did something that seemed like a perfectly natural reflex: he took his Wii U back to the store he bought it from and swapped it for a new one. Problem solved? Not at all. He’d just created his new problem.

He took the new Wii U home and discovered he couldn’t set up the same Nintendo ID he’d used on the first system. He had to make a new ID. Then, he said, he found out that he couldn’t get those $US400+ games onto his new Wii U. They were locked to the boken one… the one he didn’t have anymore. As far as Nintendo’s online infrastructure was concerned, he wasn’t the Jon of old. He was new, and he didn’t have a right to those games.

Jon was frustrated, because, of course, he did have a right to those games. He’d paid for them. He’d transferred them to a Wii U. So what if his new Network ID didn’t have a record of his purchases? He knew that Nintendo did have a record that he’d bought the games. They were registered on a page linked to his official Club Nintendo ID (a different ID that isn’t tied to the Wii U). Jon shared that list with me, and you can see it below. Games he paid to download on his Wii — games now lost to him — have red boxes next to them:









The Club Nintendo webpage seemed to show that Jon was a diehard Nintendo fan. He hoped Nintendo’s customer service department would agree and help him out. Jon e-mailed them. They said they were “sorry to hear about the issues you’ve experienced with your first Wii U console” but that “since you traded your Wii U console for another one at a retailer, we will need to speak to you directly to get all of the details and work out the best solution.” This couldn’t be resolved with a quick e-mail. He picked up his phone.

“I called Nintendo and spent weeks talking to them about the problem,” Jon said. “The lady, who helped me, was one of the nicest ladies, and was incredibly sweet to me. She wanted to help me, so I sent in my receipt to prove which systems I did the exchange for. After weeks of her reviewing everything, they gave me $US200 of credit on the Wii U marketplace.”

The problem with the $US200 offer from Nintendo wasn’t just that it was half of what Jon had spent. It’s that the Wii U online shop is a different digital store than the Wii online shop. They use different online wallets. Both can be accessed via a Wii, but only one — the Wii shop — sells the games Jon had already paid for and wanted to have access to again. That $US200 of Wii U shop credit couldn’t buy any of the $US400 worth of games he’d bought.


So that $US200 would just sit there on his Wii U. It couldn’t help Jon.

Jon isn’t the first person to figure out that Nintendo locks downloadable games to only one Nintendo ID. He wouldn’t be the first to figure out that this is different than how, say, Apple works. That electronics giant ties purchases to Apple IDs that can be activated on numerous iOS devices.

Nintendo’s own Wii U instruction manuals have also made clear the Nintendo IDs will lock content, though the company has suggested that users will someday be able to transfer their Nintendo IDs — and, presumably the content locked to them — from one device to another. If that was available to Jon, he wouldn’t have a problem. But, I asked Nintendo, why does Nintendo lock content to an account that is locked to hardware? Why not adopt a system that allows the transfer of Nintendo IDs?

“Different companies take different approaches to preventing the resale of downloadable games,” a rep for Nintendo of America told me in response to these questions. “Anyone who experiences any issues with a Nintendo system or game should contact Nintendo Customer Service at 800-255-3700 or 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.”

You’d think that being short $US400 worth of games might put Jon off from Nintendo, but remember that bit about him being a Nintendo fan? He can’t quite give Nintendo up.

“I still think they are an amazing company, and will still purchase retail copies of their games,” he told me. “I will be a little more hesitant about downloading games through the Wii U, but I still play both the Wii U and 3DS.”

He just wants to have what he paid for.


  • Nintendo just don’t get DLC at all. Its probably the main reason I haven’t picked up a wii U. The whole one console thing is about ten years behind everyone else.

    • Have you actually used the Wii U? The console is actually much more of a console than the 360/PS3 is. The Wii U shop is actually a pleasure to use and the console OS is actually brilliant and clean.

      As for DLC, I think they seem to have it pretty well under wraps. I think you need to go use one to see what its really like.

      • No offense, but when you say things like “the console is actually much more of a console than the 360/PS3 is” you sound like a blind fan boy.

        Maybe if you tried to substantiate your claims with facts or examples you would seem a little less like a blatant advert for purchasing a Wii U.

      • Yeah – it might be easier to make the initial purchase, but that doesn’t resolve the issues I’ve highlighted at all.

  • its good to see this kind of thing put up publicly, we need less of this kind of thing, i remember when i read PSN had 4-5 activations each, i never realized it was per console, i thought it was per item, i now have 2 activations on dead consoles and 1 on a sold one with just 1 left to juggle

    • You can log into your psn account via select account > media & devices > game > deactivate all. Once deactivated you’ll just have to reactivate the console(s) you do use. You can do this once every six months.

  • To be honest we all new we need Nintendo to do this transfer between consoles. This Jon guy, being a N fan should be well on top of that. Just like everything else in life these days, no one wants to take responsibility for their own actions.

      • He actually has a fair point. At every step of the transfer your are informed more than once its a one way street and it will be tied to your Wii U. So he knew what the situation was before he would have taken it back.

        The sad part is Nintendo didn’t help him out in the way he hoped. They have a pretty darn good history of support for consoles and their users.

        • They also have a history of not knowing what the hell they’re doing when it comes to online services. Tying the content to the console is ridiculous. What if somebody had broken into his house and stolen his console? He’d be in he exact same position he’s in now because the content is locked to the console instead of the account.

        • He doesn’t really have a point. Now, if the guy had just decided to give away his Wii U for whatever reason, sure, that’s one thing, but the console broke of no fault of his own. It’s not his responsibility to go rebuy ALL of this games because NINTENDO gave him a faulty console

          • This Jon guy is clearly a big fan of Nintendo and should of known about Wii U’s terrible online system. Jon should of called Nintendo customer service before returning it. It’s not all his fauly Nintendo should really change this stupid system immediately or give away the games for free again. There is no reason for this idiotic online system, whoever created it should be fired and never work with computers again.

          • It doesn’t matter if he knew about the terrible system. If someone sells you a faulty product then they should replace it without, say, taking all of your games with you. If I were Jon, I would have gone to Fair Trading. Because frankly that’s bordering onto illegal

  • For my mind this should not have come to Kotaku – Jon should be dealing directly with Fair Trading in his state. The reason for this is that if his console is broken (and it was) he is entitled to go back to the store where he purchased it to receive the replacement. Now Nintendo need to be able to accomodate this requirement in some way. Yes I am aware he should not have created a new Nintendo ID. But then Nintendo should allow him to clear the new one and replace it with his old one. This would be the logical step. Especially as faulty and time worn replacement of consoles is a known situation in the console business.

    Of course the best part in all of this is that Nintendo have already given him $200 in credit for $400 worth of (virtual) goods. So they’ve admitted fault in some way.

    Oh and for the record this draconian service Nintendo are offering is the reason I have not grabbed a WiiU. Until they fix it I don’t want to risk losing anything I may have on my original Wii.

    • The fact they issued him $200 in credit is no admittance of fault, its an effort to try and help a customer who has done something that is out of both of their controls. Its even stated by Jon himself that the person on the phone went out of her way and was great in trying to help him out.

      As for not picking up a Wii U in fear of losing your software, you wont as long as you hold onto your console and send it in for repair, the same can be said for your Wii. Nintendo have already announced later this year your Nintendo Account wont be tied to your console (and hopefully for those who demand it, for their games too).

      I have two cases now of Microsoft accounts being lost, one from my best friend, one from my partner. One was hacked and banned, one deleted then being recreated, with neither being able to get their account reactivated – losing their games, skydrive and achievements.

      Microsoft on the second case has already outright said “We will not reimburse you any money for the loss of your account software and games and can not reactivate your previous account”. And that battle has been going on for 6 weeks now..

      How is this any worse than Nintendo’s system? Atleast he has RECEIVED help and managed to get an outcome, even if its not the desired one. Both have their risks and benefits, I think people just forget that when they haven’t encountered an account based breach of security.

    • All he needs to do to clear the account is give them the serial number on the console he sent back… which of course he can’t.

      Without thinking he made a user error, Companies can’t be held accountable for user error. The guy driving his car can’t sue the company that made it if he crashes into a tree while texting.

      • See, it’s one thing if he pours water over it, but when it comes faulty? More to your analogy, a guy driving his car can sue the company that made it if it came faulty, of no fault of his own, and due to that fault he crashed the car into a tree. He could then sue the company for a new car of the same value, all of his medical bills, legal fees, and probably a bit extra

        • To keep the car analogy it’s more like he got the car serviced by somebody else used 3rd party parts and than wanted a warranty claim.

          But really the Car analogy doesn’t work and I made a mistake using it.

          • When it comes right down to it, Nintendo made, sold and profited off of a faulty good. Jon didn’t break it, it was faulty to begin with. Therefor, any problems are entirely Nintendo’s fault, and Jon isn’t responsible at all

          • Nintendo don’t make a profit on the sale of a Wii U. And the way you say it, it’s sounding like Nintendo intend for these faulty products to be on the market.

          • If they intend to or not (I know they didn’t intend to), they’re still liable. If you put a faulty product on the market, knowing or not, it’s your responsibility to replace that product and recuperate any damage that product caused

  • I remember an article posted after the Wii U’s launch, someone got a second hand one full of games bought from the store. I don’t think that guy was complaining. Silly system, Nintendo.

    • I think once you do the transfer, those games are then locked to Wii-mode on the WiiU and can’t be redownloaded on the original Wii

  • Everyone is quick to point out the advantage of account based security – you can take it everywhere with you. The thing people forget is, what happens when your account gets hacked and you lose access to all your games?

    Mate has lost about $300 worth of Xbox live games and his achievements when his account was hacked and used to do illegal activity so they permanently terminated his account. He tried to get it back but it was gone.

    I think everyone needs to remember that both systems have there good and bad sides, Nintendo’s is a lot more secure, but it comes with a very huge loss of freedom.

    Basic rule of this story should be “Read what is being said to you at every step”, the Wii U and the Wii tell you 2-3 times that once you go through this process the games can never be returned to your Wii and will be tied to your Wii U console.

  • Locking content to consoles is a ridiculous idea. I won’t be getting a Wii U unless Nintendo change their ways, but I can’t see them changing anything anytime soon.

    • They have already announced that you will be able to move accounts in the future. It actually states this in the article that you are commenting on.

      • Nintendo announce a lot of things but don’t always follow through. I’ll be waiting for them to get their shit together before I buy anything on the eStore. Until then it’s just disc copies for me. I haven’t even done the Wii transfer yet.

        • Wii transfer was hassle free for me 🙂
          E – store experience has been good – so far. Bought balloon fight – the nano shooter?? game and some tables on zen pinball2. All have worked – no problems. No complaints from me.

  • This wasn’t even a problem when the 360 launched 8 years ago. Nintendo has been dragged kicking and screaming into the online age.

  • “Jon” received as much as Nintendo could allow.
    Instead of actually being credited the titles, they credited him the maximum cash balance that can be held in the store, which is $200. The poor guy got shafted on the second time, due to Nintendo’s technical restrictions.

  • This is exactly why I backup my console. It just makes sense to have a copy spare for restore purposes / hard drive DIY upgrades. I realise this situation may be a little different with the ‘transfer’ process – I don’t own a Wii U so I wouldn’t know. All the more reason why I would steer clear of ‘transferring’ between consoles.

  • Why are so many of you people defending Nintendo on this? Are you mad? I’m with Jon on this. I wouldn’t have known that my content would have been locked to SAID CONSOLE. Why? Because that’s STUPID. You can not justify a bad business practice with “Well, rules are rules. Should have read up on Nintendo site! Better luck next time!”.

    And to the people who doesn’t think this article should be on Kotaku are also crazy. The reason it’s on Kotaku is just what it says in the opening statement. “Unfortunately for Jon, who asked that I not use his last name but who was hoping some coverage might wake Nintendo up about this issue, it doesn’t seem to be that hard. It’s partially a result of Nintendo’s strict policies about downloadable games — policies that differ from other industry leaders such as Apple’s, and don’t seem set to change any time soon.” In other words a public service to let others know to not do what this guy did. You should be thanking him. Also, it might help Nintendo in their old age to CHANGE this stupid policy.

    If this was “On Disc DLC” people would be up in arms. Sadly this is just as bad if not worse. Because with on disc DLC you aren’t “losing” anything. You can choose to not buy the game or if you do, not get the dlc (You already paid for because it’s on the disc) and go about your merry way. This you’re actually paying money and not having the right to your content. Before you say “Send it in” why should Jon be forced to do so? He did the most convenient for him and Nintendo. I’ve had 6+ Xbox360’s die on me due to red ring. Which is one reason why I stopped console gaming, but sending them in is a PAIN. Plus it can take up to 2-3 weeks before they ship it back. Then you have to hope it doesn’t get damaged on the trip back.

    Giving him the 200 dollars doesn’t cut it. They should just GIVE HIM the ability to REDOWNLOAD his software. “200 is our maximum limit” BS. You can sell a console a console for 300-350 dollars and the add ons like the controllers are what? Rumors it will be 89 dollars for that iPad like controller? This is just a mess and as a consumer I REALLY hope Nintendo will do the right thing and take back the 200 Wii U store credits and just either add his new console to ID with his DLC or they just give him a new account and give him access to the stuff he PAID for. Out of ALL the consoles/big gaming studios I really had a lot of faith in Nintendo. I just hope they don’t screw this guy over because if they do, then I guess they’re all corrupt. -_-a

  • I don’t see why the user can’t remotely deactivate the games/login on the old console. Apple and Sony are among many others who offer this. At the very least it should be within Nintendo’s power to do so…

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