Nintendo Says “No” to DSiWare Game Transfers

By  |  Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Nintendo is doing digital distribution wrong by not letting Nintendo DSi owners transfer their downloaded games to the new Nintendo DSi XL.

Following the new, large-screen handheld’s launch last Sunday, GameSpot’s Tor Thorsen wondered whether Nintendo might have a way for DSi owners to upgrade without sacrificing the DSiWare game downloads they already bought. “No,” a Nintendo of America representative said, “the games and applications are specific to each system, not each user.”

That’d be like Apple saying you can’t take your apps with you when upgrading to the iPhone 3GS from an older model. Of course that’s not the case, because Apple ties its games and apps to the user, not the device. That means you can also take your apps to an iPod Touch or iPad. It’s a system that encourages brand loyalty and lots of purchases.

Microsoft and Sony handle game downloads in a similar fashion, linking purchases to Xbox Live and the Playstation Network, rather than a specific console. Though Microsoft hasn’t yet been tested with the kinds of incremental hardware upgrades Nintendo offers (it doesn’t sell a handheld gaming console, for that matter), PSP owners tell me you can tie games to several hardware devices. Between the DSi, the DSi XL and the upcoming 3DS, Nintendo will have released three handheld gaming devices in a two-year span. If Nintendo won’t let a user move downloaded content between devices, how can that person buy with confidence?

Nintendo’s system for digital distribution needs a major overhaul based on user accounts rather than hardware. Otherwise, the company is telling its best customers — the ones that upgrade hardware often — that downloadable games are a bad investment.


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. BrainwreckedTech Says:

    “[L]inking purchases to Xbox Live…rather than a specific console,” is not entirely true. It’s both Xbox Live account and console. People can play downloads they didn’t pay for as long as the console license is still there. That is, if the producing companies follow along (some don’t).

    Microsoft went through a similar ordeal when they released the Elite system. They under-estimated how many people would trade up. The first response was “call tech support,” then they released a transfer cable, then they finally made Download Again re-issue the license.

  2. Hal Mackins Says:

    I’d be more annoyed at this if there were any programs worth transferring. DSiware has been a major disappointment to date. Where are the emulated GameBoy games?

  3. Max Says:

    Long live physical media and systems not requiring online authentication for each game you play.

    Whether the games are tied to one console or one online account, both will eventually be unavailable due to the console malfunctioning or the authentication servers being taken down.

    I know they want to fight copyright infringement, but its just going backwards in terms of the control and real ownership over a purchased good you receive.

    Will the games still work in 20 years if my console dies and I eventually buy another, like my NES carts, and GB/GBA/DS/SNES/Megadrive/64 carts and PS1/PS2/Xbox discs that followed on in obtaining my cash for their makers?

    A lot of people got to like digital distribution through roms etc, which are even better in terms of the freedom you have in using them, even when excluding the ‘free’ factor.
    That was mostly a step forward from physical media for users, bringing the ability to copy to any device desired, make backups etc. All the advantages of the downloadable method without any artificial limitations.

    Digital downloads from stores run by the makers of the console (with no competing stores possible) is a major step back. The pricing on PSN (in Australia at least) is terrible.

    Digitally distributed content is only appealing in the slightest to me if it is in an open standard anyone can (and multiple do) support and has no DRM to prevent that.

  4. Max Says:

    The best way to experience games from Nintendo? On your PC or Mac. Go get a VisualBoy Advance emulator here (, download all the original GB, GBC, and Gameboy Advance games for free here (, and promptly give Nintendo the middle finger for not willfully giving you what you want.

    Also, don’t forget all the Wii ISOs on the site too.

  5. Max Says:

    Haha, 2 Max’s (last post wasn’t me).

    Probably not a good idea to be linking to rom sites.

  6. Dan Says:

    It looks like a fine idea to me (linking to the ROM/emulator sites above). After all, on this page, Technologizer has a link to an article about playing NES ROMs on the Nokia N900 (the article is called ‘Nokia N900 Plays NES Emulators? You Never Heard That’). You just didn’t hear what you read two posts above (from the second Max).

  7. King Nigger Says:

    Nintendo told me, a black man, that they wouldn’t allow transfering. I’m going to sue for racism.