Nintendo’s made some progress towards joining the rest of the gaming world on the Internet. After close to a decade of byzantine networking options like the Nintendo DS and Wii’s Friend Code system, Nintendo’s Wii U has introduced Miiverse, a welcoming and easy (at least easier) to use online gaming and social network. By doing away with Friend Codes, it seems as though Nintendo has finally recognized that all members of its audience—from the youngest children to octogenarian Brain Age players—are accustomed to communicating and gaming responsibly online. Nintendo hasn’t learned all its lessons apparently, since it appears that the company is restricting the sale of games on the eShop.
An Italian Wii U owner attempted to purchase ZombiU through the eShop and was met with an onscreen message informing them that the content couldn’t be viewed at this time. It turns out that this is not an error at all. Nintendo of Europe decided that all European Wii U owners can only access content rated for people about the age of 18 during certain hours of the day.
Following up with Nintendo, a customer service representative responded, “Dear Customer: We would like to let you know that Nintendo has always aimed to offer gameplay experiences suited to all age groups, observing carefully all the relevant regulations regarding content access that are present in the various European countries. We have thus decided to restrict the access to content which is unsuitable to minors to the 11pm – 3am time window.”
Yes, the Wii U has “After Dark” hours.
Eurogamer confirmed that this wasn’t localized to Italy either, testing Wii U’s in the UK and receiving a message that read, “You cannot view this content. The times during which this content can be viewed have been restricted.”
What’s particularly mystifying about this policy is that the Wii U has systems in place to check whether or not an adult is accessing the eShop. Part of the Wii U’s sales pitch is that different users can have profiles on the console, indicating preferences for both the console and Miiverse. Nintendo even goes so far as to charge people money for registering minors to the Miiverse, a process that “verifies parental consent” according to the company. If a child accesses the eShop via their account, shouldn’t 18+ rated games automatically not appear? Is Nintendo really so incompetent at ecommerce that the only solution it could come up with was restricting the hours at which these games can be purchased?
It should be noted that Nintendo is dealing with multiple ratings systems across all European territories which can understandably complicate matters. No such time restriction exists for US Wii U users. Regardless this does not bode well for the future of Nintendo’s digital business. One step forward into the digital world for Nintendo still involves two steps back.