Second-hand Wii U consoles give access to old users' games - report

That's the Nintendo difference.

Gamers who buy a used Wii U console can re-download any content that a previous owner purchased, a new report suggests.

That's despite any old user accounts being removed and the hard drive wiped clean, NeoGAF claims. One user picked up a second-hand console to find he had free access to games such as Trine 2 and Nano Assault Neo.

Download history is linked to your console, not your user account.

The reason for this appears to be that licenses for downloaded content are tied to a specific Wii U console, not a single user account. This tallies with the fact that all users of the console can access downloaded content, regardless of who purchased it.

A users' account (their Nintendo Network ID) and any download purchase history is tied to a single console. The only way to recover an ID from another Wii U is by sending it to Nintendo's customer support - and that's something only Nintendo of America has confirmed it can do.

So, currently, it appears there's little choice for gamers when trading in Wii U, except to leave access to already-downloaded content on the machine. It's bad news for people who may later reconsider their trade-in (and who are unlikely to get any extra exchange value for it). It's surely bad for Nintendo too - it currently has no way of stopping cheaper, second-hand consoles loaded with free games becoming available.

But it's good news for anyone who does pick up a Wii U second-hand. You may find it comes with a couple of free games waiting to be re-downloaded.

We've asked Nintendo for a statement on the matter.

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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

News Editor  |  tomphillipsEG

Tom is Eurogamer's news editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and all the stealth Destiny articles.


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