It took long enough, and it’s part of an update coming in December—you will finally be able link your 3DS and Wii U and their eShop balances together by signing into a Nintendo Network account on your 3DS. But I don’t understand Nintendo’s reluctance at forbidding multiple 3DS/Wii U consoles from using the same Nintendo Network ID.
Nintendo expressing this in support documents and marketing documents make the matter feel like a tacit acknowledgement that they believe nobody needs to use their Nintendo Network ID on any other device. Or, that nobody will own more than one 3DS console, or more than one Wii U console.
And I can already think of some legitimate use cases that using a Nintendo Network ID on more than one device can have.
Take a look at Apple and the iOS/Mac App Store. You could use your Apple ID on up to five (or “every Mac you own” for the Mac App Store) devices at once. Want to share a game with the wife/partner? Or your kids? Buy once on your Apple ID, and use iCloud purchases/iTunes to download them onto your kids’ iOS devices. Or maybe you’ve just bought a fun universal app on your iPhone and would like it on your iPad—Automatic Downloads will have sent it to your iPad already.
The same cannot be said about your kids’ 2DS/3DS consoles. Want to share a game between multiple consoles? Prepare to whip out that credit card and spend on that game multiple times. Or maybe a game you’ve bought from the eShop would look better on your 3DS XL. Can’t play it on both at the same time, so you’ll need to do a System Transfer.
It also happens to be that you can sign into Miiverse on every other device that you own—sign in on the web browser or sign in on both your iPhone and iPod touch. Want to do that on a Nintendo 3DS or your friends’ Wii U? That’s a no-go.
This only strikes me as another consumer-hostile decision made by the heads in charge. And it also makes me wonder as to the exact point of a Nintendo Network ID.
What if, when you purchased a game or app, it would become available on all your devices? You’d have your favourite games on your small handheld gaming device, and when you wanted to beam the game onto the big screen, you could do just that? Or, maybe, you wanted to carry the games on a bigger device and share that bigger screen around with your friends? You can already do that. But not with a Nintendo device.
So the Wii U is struggling, and the Nintendo 3DS is doing modestly well but still short of the popularity of the original DS. It may not be the case that the ecosystem is why they’re not selling as well as they could. But, would you buy a Nintendo device if there was an ecosystem? What if it meant that the content you’ve purchased off the eShop will appear on all your devices?
The 3DS and Wii U have completely different architectures which would prevent games from working on either platform so easily, but the same can’t be said about Virtual Console titles. VC titles are separated by an abstraction layer—the emulator—and could easily be ported between the consoles. Save files and restore points could easily be shared. If they can’t, simply because the save files are incompatible by the emulator’s design, then here’s the simple gist of it: you’re coding your emulator wrong.
There’s something Nintendo’s doing partly right with the Wii U: the Nintendo Network accounts system. The games you buy are available to every user of the console, and rightly so—it’s a family console. Yet for some reason, you can’t log into any other Wii U console with your account. So those Wii U eShop purchases can’t be taken to a friend’s place, and you can’t “lend” the games you’ve bought. You’d have to cart along the family Wii. If only for the sake of DRM, you can’t log in and access your friends list or Miiverse account while you’re away from your Wii U. Why? Which manufacturer forces you to do this, really? Not Apple. Not Microsoft. Not Google. Not Sony.
If you’re a 3DS user, your digital games are bound to your console. If you want to transfer them to another console, you have to go through a convoluted transfer process, and even then, you can’t have the game on both consoles. Got a 3DS and a 3DS XL, and just like to swap your games between them? No luck. And what if your brother wants to play Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies? No luck there—you’d have to lend him your console with all your games and save files.