Nintendo president Satoru Iwata hosted another one of the company’s regular Nintendo Direct broadcasts in Japan last night, and this time Iwata explained how the Wii U’s online network and account system would work.
Unsurprisingly, the Wii U’s set up isn’t all that different from the Xbox 360 or PS3: multiple users can set up different user accounts on the same system, and each individual user’s save files, preferences, and internet history. In addition to the user account on the system, players will need to set up a Nintendo Network ID, which is basically the equivalent of an Xbox Live or Playstation Network account: your Nintendo Network ID will be the screenname that’s displayed when you play online games, and all of your purchases from the Wii U e-shop will be tied to your Network ID. Again, this is all basically identical to the systems that Microsoft and Sony use on the 360 and PS3. Content bought with one Nintendo Network ID will be accessible to all user accounts on the same console.
Interestingly, Iwata mentioned that the Nintendo Network ID will also let you sign into other networks, similar to how many modern websites let you sign in using your Facebook account — once you’re signed into the Nintendo Network, you’ll automatically be logged into any other networks that your games support, such as EA’s Origin service or Ubisoft’s UPlay. This feature is similar to the Steamworks connectivity that was featured in the PS3 version of Portal 2. Iwata also revealed that Nintendo is working on a smartphone app that will allow users to login to Nintendo Network on the go to check their messages or make purchases from their phone.
Finally, Iwata reiterated that all downloadable content from the original Wii, including WiiWare and Virtual Console games, will be fully backwards compatible and transferable to the Wii U. Details regarding how to migrate your Wii purchases over to a Nintendo Network account will be revealed soon.