Why Nintendo abandoned Friend Codes for Wii U

When Wii U launches on November 18th, it will usher in a new era of online connectivity for Nintendo. Thanks to the Nintendo Network and Miiverse, Wii U players will no longer have to exchange Friend Codes to connect with one another.

One of the reasons why Nintendo has been so hesitant to offer a simple ID system was that it wanted to "prevent users from having objectionable encounters with strangers," as Nintendo president Satoru Iwata explained. But, as Miiverse producer Kiyoshi Mizuki pointed out, "people put their Friend Codes on other networks and bulletin boards and exchanged them with strangers anyway."

So, how did Nintendo reconcile their desire for online safety with users' desire for an easier online experience? "We came to think that it might be better for Nintendo itself to provide a service that would be more fun to use," Mizuki told Iwata, who asked. "With Miiverse, you don't simply become friends with complete strangers without any prior knowledge. You become friends with someone with whom you sense a shared sensibility because you play the same game." On WaraWara Plaza, Wii U's main hub, you'll get to interact with others that have played the same games as you.

"In Miiverse, you talk about a game in which you are both interested in. This allows you to think 'we get along!' or 'I want to play together with this person!' and then consider becoming friends," Iwata proclaimed.