Nintendo leak finally explains why we still have to use clunky friend codes instead of usernames

By Emily Gera, Monday, 4 May 2020 23:08 GMT

An internal powerpoint presentation from Nintendo which was leaked over the weekend appears to explain why we’re still using friend codes instead of usernames.

Friend codes – a 12-digit numeric code used to connect to other players – were originally introduced in 2006 for the Wii, and have since continued to be used on 3DS and Nintendo Switch systems. But they’re clunky, and tough to remember. Why not just use usernames?

Over the weekend, leaked documents – apparently first posted to 4chan and reportedly linked to a server hack at a contracted company – appear to offer an answer to this question. A presentation slide for the Wii explains Nintendo pushed for friend codes believing these were simpler and more comfortable to use compared to a username system.

“At first there were opinions that instead of 12-digit numbers, a freely chosen screen name would be better,” the slide begins, before listing the potential problems.

“There is a high probability of duplicate screen names. When this happens, multiple reentries are required. (Conflicts with the “Simple” principle. It’s possible to guess someone’s screen name by trying different variations of their actual name. (Conflicts with the “Comfortable” principle.)”

While the logic doesn’t exactly follow, it offers fascinating insight into the thought process that went into Nintendo’s Wii and which continues to be used today.

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