When you buy games on your Wii U (at least, from the online eShop) the games are tied to the console, not your Nintendo ID. So, as the internet is just discovering today, when you sell on your Wii U (despite the fact that it’s only been out a month or so) whoever picks it up cheap will also get the chance to play the games.
It’s a curious way of doing things, and absolutely Nintendo, who are still to really ‘get’ online marketplaces. It’s a similar story with the 3DS from memory – as far as I know games bought on there can be redownloaded on the portable – but this latest Wii U story seems to be getting much more attention. Presumably because the range of ‘full’ retail titles available on the Wii U is much richer.
And the games more expensive.
The situation is fairly acute, though. I’ve bought five or six games on my Wii U and should I wish to flog it on (regardless of method of flogging) the next guy who gets the console cheap could easily log into the eShop with their own account and redownload the games, for free, back onto the Wii U.
Irrespective of whether or not the console is ‘wiped’, too – the Console ID remains, and that’s what the eShop uses to determine who ‘owns’ the games for download. Presumably if the Wii U breaks Nintendo can transfer the Console ID to another console, but as it stands – and those games aren’t cheap – your hefty purchases will more than likely extend well beyond the lifespan of the ownership of the machine you’re selling.
A cute little diversion, perhaps, but it does underline how desperately Nintendo need to start thinking about locking purchases to user accounts, not an arbitrary machine number.
So, if you’re thinking of buying a secondhand Wii U, do check the eShop when you get it, and by routing around in the various games you’ll hopefully find one or two (or more) that you won’t have to pay for. Your mileage may vary, of course, and the longer you leave it the more likely you’ll get a machine with games activated, but apparently nothing the retailers can do will remove access…