If you bought your Wii U used then there’s a good chance you got a pleasant surprise when you loaded up the system’s e-Shop for the first time: used Wii U owners are reporting that they’re able to re-download all of their system’s previous owner’s downloaded content for free.
Despite the fact that the used consoles have had all of their previous owner’s account information wiped from their memory, the consoles are reportedly still able to access and re-download any downloadable games or DLC that were previously downloaded by the system’s original owners. A poster on NeoGAF says he bought a second-hand Wii U console and was able to re-download the previous owner’s copy of Trine 2 for free.
This is apparently allowed because the Wii U registers digital purchases to specific consoles, rather than user accounts, like the Xbox 360 and PS3 do. This is good news if you’re in the market for a used Wii U, but it may be bad if you end up selling your console and later on end up buying another Wii U and want to transfer your old purchases over to your new system.
Nintendo obviously has less experience with online distribution than any of their competitors do, and the baffling decision to link online purchases to hardware rather than user accounts is an example of that. I can’t see Nintendo allowing this kind of thing to go on for long, and this is probably the kind of oversight (or feature, depending on how you look at it,) that Nintendo will fix with future firmware updates.