The Wii U's Nintendo Network ID system, the console's alternative to Friend Codes, will support up to 12 users per a console, allow third-party publishers to create their own online networks and require a sizable day-one patch to work, Nintendo president president Satoru Iwata said during an early morning video stream.
What remains unclear, though, is how many Network IDs, which handle friend lists, purchases and online activity, can be assigned to a single console and what role user IDs, which are personalized for each gamer, have in terms of those services.
Wii U owners will first be required to create a user account for the device prior to creating their Nintendo Network ID, with each console allowing a maximum of 12 user accounts. This is followed by designing a Mii avatar.
A Nintendo Network ID is created next, with users asked to input a password, date of birth, gender, location and email address. This ID is used for eShop purchases, as well as within Miiverse and video chat.
Iwata said that the system allows users to register a Wii U user as a friend, "just like a friend code."
The system will also use the ID to track who purchased which games.
"Download software and add-on content purchased in Nintendo eShop can be played by all users registered to that console," he said.
Iwata added that the Nintendo Network will also work with various other network services with different software developers via their own network. This seems to leave the door open to system's like EA's Origin working on the console.
"Once you link your Nintendo Network ID to another network service," Iwata said, "you can use each software developer's service using your Nintendo Network ID."
It also sounds like that Network ID will be headed to other Nintendo hardware, though Iwata wasn't clear if that means future hardware, or if it could come to existing portables as well. Nintendo plans to incorporate this ID with PC and smartphone devices further down the line.
The user account ID, not the Network ID, will be used to save game settings, save data, pre-installed software and Wii U games to the console, Iwata said. The account will also allow users to save bookmark's for the console's internet browser and save play history. Some games will allow you to share save data among multiple users, he added.
This ID will be used when the console is first turned on, to select a user, Iwata said.
Iwata said that to use the online services, gamers will have to download what could be a large day one update to the console.
Finally, Iwata explained that Wii owners will be able to transfer Virtual Console and WiiWare titles to their Wii U as as well as save data. That process will be detailed at a later date, he said.
Nintendo will release the Wii U on Nov. 18 in North America. The Wii U will be released on Nov. 30 in Europe and Australia, then on Dec. 8 in Japan.