Nintendo Drawing Scrutiny for Its DRM

I saw this story yesterday and initially wasn’t going to comment. However, the more I considered it, the more I think this is worth calling out. At play here are not technical decisions and limitations, but rather business policies.

As John Mix Meyer at Wired explains, new models of Nintendo’s console are drawing to light limits surrounding the downloadable content of which many users have partaken. The inability to transfer downloaded games is an issue that owners of failed consoles had already encountered. It arises from tying of the downloads to a specific machine rather to a user account that would be de-coupled from any particular machine.

I seem to remember having to set up an account to buy credits which are necessary to expend on most downloads. As the article points out, the other two consoles do not suffer from this problem, allowing re-downloads to different consoles from the same account. The article does go on to explain that some owners have gotten titles transferred but with varying degrees of difficulty.

Regardless of the overall rate of success, there does appear to be an override and the issues described sound like they arise from policy, procedure or both.

While Nintendo says it is “looking into” allowing users to transfer games, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich told Wired.com the company is working out the kinks in its digital distribution system. He expects the problem to be solved once Nintendo’s next-gen home console comes out.

As the owner of both a Wii and a DSi, I’ll add that lately Nintendo has been pushing hard in its newsletters on downloadable content. It seems a bit late in the game to work out these issues but hopefully they will avoid a disaster of Sony proportions when more folks opt to buy one of the newer model consoles or when the game maker eventually debuts their next generation console. I would go further and say a more proactive and consumer friendly response here would be a huge opportunity to earn a lot of customer goodwill when other consoles are repeatedly in the news, inspiring owner ire.

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