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 $200.00 of credit on the Wii U marketplace."
The problem with the $200 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 $200 of Wii U shop credit couldn't buy any of the $400 worth of games he'd bought.
So that $200 would just sit there on his Wii U. It could pay for a bunch of Wii U games. But it couldn't get Jon what he wanted.
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 that 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 | Nintendo - Customer Service |
. 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 $400 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.