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Wii U's restrictive DRM is a baffling throwback

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Posted

The new Nintendo Network ID system that debuted on the Wii U is a sign of progress for a company that has, historically, not shown a lot of savvy in setting up its online systems. The Wii U lets users connect up to 12 separate Nintendo Network IDs to a single system and use those IDs to easily connect with online friends and strangers. The new Wii U eShop includes many retail games for download on the same day they reach stores, and does away with the "Wii Points" virtual currency that characterized Nintendo's previous console. The company has even promised to roll out a cloud save feature sometime next year.

Given all of these improvements, it's a bit baffling that Nintendo is still caught in the past when it comes to the extremely limiting digital rights management system that ties downloaded game and content purchases to a single console.

As Nintendo's Wii U FAQ makes clear, "a Nintendo Network Account can only be used on the console where it was created." Thus, any games tied to that unique online ID will only work on the first system they're purchased and downloaded to. This is in essence the same setup that Nintendo used to protect downloaded Virtual Console and WiiWare games on the first Wii, a setup that not only utterly failed to stop piracy on the system but also caused headaches for many early Wii owners with faulty systems.

Tying downloaded games to a single system means there's no way for a user to access those games at a friend's house short of lugging the entire system along (yes, the Wii is a lot smaller and lighter than other contemporary systems, but still...). It also means a game downloaded to the Wii U in the living room won't be playable on a second system in the kids' room, even if the same password-protected Nintendo Network ID was used on both systems.

It also means that if your system breaks down, you can't just go buy a new one (or borrow one from a friend) and immediately recover your content using your account. Instead, you have to go through Nintendo's official repair process, waiting up to two weeks for the system to be returned just to maintain the system-locked license data

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Posted

This is why I point out that MS was smart in tying purchases to the account and machine. :)

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Posted

While this is a bit unfortunate there is still a bit more to this, a user on another forum I am at had a Wii U that broke down after two days sadly and he sent it back to Nintendo. Then a few days after when he got a new Wii U back that console was able to unbind his NNID and made it possible to rebind it to that console o.o Though the question here is if the new Wii U was only able to do this because it was specially set up by Nintendo or if all factory-sealed Wii U's are able to do this. I guess only time will tell after someone actually tries it out with a newly bought system :/

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Posted

That's still a huge hassle, and even moreso a long term problem when they come out with the next gen system.

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