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My Wii was stolen. Don’t worry about me; this happened in 2007. The most frustrating moment occurred the day after the crime when I was on the phone with Nintendo and customer service informed me that it had no way to return my virtual items even if I were to buy a whole new Wii. I had over $50 worth of downloaded games and another $50 in unspent points all just sitting on the system. It was infuriating that not only did I have to suffer at the hands of a thief, but I also had to suffer the incompetence of a company that didn’t understand an online world.

That’s why I was happy to hear this news from GoNintendo.com:

“A unified account system will be implemented later this year with the launch of the Wii U. Eventually, this same account system will be made compatible with the Nintendo 3DS system,” said David Marshall, customer support agent with Nintendo of Canada. “If the system is stolen, we can transfer the account to a new system once we are provided with a valid police report.”


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Both the unified network and the ability to recover an account from a stolen system is a positive step forward, but is a police report really necessary?

Nintendo doesn't get it

I wondered what a person with a stolen 3DS would have to do today to recover any downloaded games or unspent points. So I contacted Nintendo’s customer-service line (that 800-number on the back of your Wii and 3DS), and I asked.

A young man named Rob answered the phone after I got through the automated menu.

I posed this question to him as a hypothetical: “How would I get the downloaded games from my 3DS to a new 3DS if the old system was stolen?”

“Typically, it’s not possible,” Rob told me. “In the case of a stolen system, the only way we could do it is if you registered your 3DS. Like if you signed up for Club Nintendo. We’d have to be able to confirm the serial number.” Because, apparently, tying your credit-card info to the system is not enough for some reason.
It’s an improvement for Nintendo to just require a valid police report. When my Wii was stolen, I had a police report, but that didn’t help me. At least someone else in that situation can rest knowing his virtual goods will always belong to him. Still, a police report seems like an overzealous demand and especially if you compare that to Sony’s and Microsoft’s respective solutions.

Sony allows each of its customers to activate a PlayStation Network ID on up to two systems (including both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita) at any one time. If a user already has two devices attached to a PSN account, then the company provides a way to decommission one on its website.

Microsoft does something similar with the Xbox 360. When no other profile is signed in, the Xbox Live system provides a “download profile” option.

Both Sony and Microsoft simply required a username and password to make a person’s games and downloadable content available on a new system. No police report required.

Why wouldn’t Nintendo emulate these perfectly reasonable methods? It’s possible that the Nintendo Network still won’t utilize account profiles and that purchases won’t be tied to a single user-and-password combo. It’s also possible that the Japanese company is just being unnecessarily overcautious.

We’ve contacted Nintendo, and we will update if they have any comment on this story.

If you were wondering, the police never found my Wii. I bought another one and moved to a better part of town.


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