Nintendo leak reveals why “Friend Codes” aren’t personal

Chris Burns - May 4, 2020, 12:21pm CDT
Nintendo leak reveals why “Friend Codes” aren’t personal

This week a big leak of relatively early Nintendo Wii documents showed a bevy of details on Nintendo’s future – most of which were relatively low-stakes. But today we’re taking a peek at a piece of the puzzle called “The Friend Code.” In this document, it’s revealed why Nintendo chose to use Friend Codes instead of “freely chosen screen names”. Instead of users being able to choose their own unique names, Nintendo decided it was better the randomly assign codes to avoid duplicates – and to avoid the checking for said duplicates.

Per the document via Imran Khan from Game Informer, “at first there were options that instead of 12-digit numbers, a freely chosen screen name would be better.” The official Nintendo document went on to note that “Problems with using screen names” included a “high probability of duplicate screen names.” And that “when this happens, multiple reentries are required.”

Nintendo’s aim with all things is simplicity. Per the document, multiple reentries of potential names for a username “conflicts with the “simple” principle.” Nintendo wanted the system to be easy enough for anyone to drop in on without trying to think of a name that was both unique enough to be new, but also friendly enough to be memorable. It wasn’t an issue when names were assigned randomly – thus, the Friend Code.

The document also noted that with user-selected names, “it’s possible to guess someone’s screen name by trying different variations of their actual name.” A lowered center of gravity here with privacy and security “conflicts with the “comfortable” principle” that Nintendo also strives for.

Nintendo’s never really minced words when it comes to keeping their platform simple and comfortable, of that you can be sure. Do these principals and these means to keep Nintendo simple and comfortable make sense to you? Do you think the ability to choose your own screen name is more important than simplicity and comfort?


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