Yesterday a report appeared on NeoGAF, the Internet’s preeminent video game forum, which claimed that the poster had purchased a used Wii U console which, when powered on, granted him access to all of the games downloaded by whomever originally owned the console. The thread has ballooned in size since it initially appeared and corroborating reports of similar activity have begun to filter in. We’ve been unable to test this ourselves (everyone at Digital Trends who owns a Wii U purchased it new) ourselves, and while NeoGAF posters are generally very honest about things like this it still bears mentioning that this is still unconfirmed information.
However, if true, this raises a lot of questions about Nintendo’s user strategy. We’ve been told for quite a while now that games downloaded from the eShop to a Wii U console would be linked to a player’s Nintendo Network ID. This would allow Wii U owners to move from one console to another (if, say, one breaks) while still maintaining access to any games they may have purchased digitally. Unfortunately, that seems to not be the case. If these downloadable games are instead linked to a given Wii U console, you have situations like the one outlined above where a player can purchase a used Wii U machine and reap all the benefits of having had someone else own the thing previously. Further, you also likely have situations in which a Wii U console loaded with a carefully curated collection of games breaks down, quite possibly forcing its owner to purchase all of their games again.
We’ve reached out to Nintendo for comment on this matter, but were met with a succinct “we can’t comment on that” response. Assuming NeoGAF is accurate and the Wii U is linking games to systems, this could prove to be a huge problem for Nintendo. Either it will have to figure out some way to link these games (or their respective monetary values) to a player instead of a machine or simply stonewall any customers who lose their games due to console death. That second option is by far easier, but it would certainly generate a lot of ill will for the company, even from its devoted legions of fans.
On the other hand, this should be awesome news for anyone who has yet to pick up a Wii U. We can’t guarantee that picking up a used console will also grant you a ton of the system’s top games, but it’s now a very real possibility. For the time being at least, even those of you who refuse to use second-hand hardware should scour the used Wii U racks at your local Gamestop for a machine that just might save you a few hundred dollars in games purchases.