Wii or Wii U owners already know that transferring account data between consoles can be a nightmare, with Nintendo network accounts strongly linked to the hardware they're on. In many cases, selling a console or having one break means losing the games you've downloaded. But a NeoGAF forum member who bought the Wii U used is now saying that he's reaped an unexpected benefit from the policy. User "DSN2K" says that after setting up a used Wii U with a new account, he was able to redownload games the previous owner had purchased in the eShop despite the console having been wiped. We've reached out to Nintendo for comment on the matter and will update with any further information.
Other users have reported similar stories with the 3DS and original Wii, and Nintendo's nigh-permanent pairing of accounts and consoles mean it's not that surprising if it's happening with the Wii U. In theory, it's possible for Nintendo to manually transfer games to a different console, but the system is unwieldy, and leaving the games associated with the old machine under a new account may be the best people can expect. We haven't, however, been able to confirm this story ourselves, and actually finding the games on a system may require examining each title to see if it's freely downloadable. If this is happening, it's yet another sign of the widening gap between Nintendo's digital distribution system and the more portable model used in the rest of the gaming world.