The Wii U’s launch was a bit rocky, to say the least. Missing features, promised TV services and slow-loading, day-one firmware updates left Nintendo fans frustrated and disappointed. The company is still cleaning up the mess too, announcing that it will push two additional software updates to fix the console’s slogging load times. A quicker console will certainly be welcome, but the Wii U spring updates are missing an opportunity to close a rift that divides Nintendo from its loving customer base: how it handles digital content ownership.
Ever buy an Xbox Live game? You probably know that purchase is tied to your Xbox Live account, and will be available on any subsequent Xbox you purchase. Not in Nintendo’s world; Kyoto’s digital sales are tied to the gaming hardware, not the user’s account. It’s been a sore spot for Nintendo gamers for some time now, and the Wii U was the company’s chance to make amends — except it didn’t. Like its predecessors, the new console locks content to the device it was originally purchased on, imprisoning digital purchases in a physical cage. The Wii U takes content confinement a step further with its support for legacy software, providing a near-perfect example of the folly of Nintendo’s content ownership philosophy: the isolated sandbox of its backwards-compatible Wii Menu.