Friend Codes

Friend Codes are a controversial online schematic that can mildly be described as cumbersome.  The IDEA behind Friend Codes is a good one, but the execution of this idea has until recently been poorly lacking.

However, with the announcement of the universality of Friend Codes for the 3DS, the Friend Code system rises from unwieldy to a viable alternative that’s even superior in many ways to alternate online systems.

But in the spirit of fairness, allow me to play devil’s advocate against the UFC system and state what other online systems have as an advantage over it.

1)  Permanent Accounts – XBLA, Steam, and PSN have you sign up and register for an account that stays with them until you terminate it.  This is good for the swift recovery of digital content in the advent of a lost or stolen console/computer (though how you would lose a computer is quizzical) but it still requires a call to customer service.

2)  Can Invite Opponents Onto Friends List – Although we don’t know if this is possible on 3DS yet, this is a feature of Live, Steam, and PSN.  Outside of the occasional DS game or Wii game, you could not invite opponents onto your friends list.  You must trade codes elsewhere.

3)  Account Based Achievements – Achievements are thrown into every game for every system now, but on Nintendo’s system they are kept on a per-game basis, and don’t link to your gamerface or your twitbook or any other social media device.

Right now those are the only real advantages I can think of on a pure networking basis.  It’s not much, and in my opinion, definitely not worth an annual fee in Xbox Live’s case.  But let’s see how Friend codes used to work…

Yeah that’s pretty bad.  But here’s how they work now…

Much better.  So much better that now this method is a robust alternative, with several advantages over other online systems such as…

1)  No Registration – Considering people today have several internet accounts that they have to keep up with, it’s refreshing to know that the 3DS won’t encumber people more with yet another internet account to keep track of.

2)  You Can Have Any Username – Since your 3DS “account” is only a bunch of numbers, while playing your username will display as whatever you named your 3DS.  So you can be anybody you want without having to re-register as “5N4K3 |31+31” or “5N4K3 |31+3 1983” or “xXx5N4K3 |31+3xXX” just because some twerp “beat you to it.”  Steam lets you display your name as something different from your account as well, but you still have to sign up.

3)  Little Chance of Error – They are just numbers.  As long as you have the right number, you’ve got your man.  You don’t have to worry about his “personal style” of name spelling causing you to enter his name wrong.

It has been claimed that friend codes are a unique thing to Nintendo, and that their account-based system is superior because they are known as “accounts” rather than a few numbers.  But the truth is…

Nevertheless, Friend Codes still have an uphill battle to fight, mainly due to myths perpetuated by people who have never used the online services of either the DS or the Wii.  Let’s see some of these myths…

Hopefully that’s shed some light on the Friend Code misinformation out there.  Friend Codes are actually a clever way to provide most of the features of the larger account-based systems while being free of a few of their drawbacks and remaining free to boot.

3 thoughts on “Friend Codes

  1. I paid WHAT? We paid WHAT? (nothing, actually, unlike some people).

    Interesting how the new UFC system is even “less expensive” than the old FC system.


  2. The friend codes themselves were always a red herring that the tardcore latched onto as being the main problem with Nintendo’s online. All they noticed was the superficial difference (Numbers vs Names), without giving much real thought to the actual problem (per game registration.)

    THAT was the problem. Friend codes were never the problem. At all. I mean, let’s say Nintendo went the username route like the other online platforms. It would still be a pain having to add SHOOTURFACE89 and 4SSM4STER for every single game.

    Besides, the reason Nintendo doesn’t use NAMES is because Reggie would just TAKE them all.


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