An internal powerpoint presentation from Nintendo was leaked this weekend and it explains why we have friend codes instead of usernames.
Nintendo is often criticised when it comes to online interaction and environments, with many of the decisions not making a lot of sense to those using the platforms. On other services, adding a friend is an easy process of entering a username. But on Nintendo, you need to enter in a 12-digit numeric code to add a friend. What is my friend code? I have no clue, I stopped remembering numbers longer than my passport number many, many years ago.
The slide from the powerpoint presentation pertains to the Wii, and it says that friend codes were picked as being “simpler” because usernames would require multiple entries in the case of a duplicate screen name. The slide says this would conflict with the “Simple” principle.
The slide also shows that they did not want a system where people could guess someone’s screen name by entering variations of their actual name (who uses their actual name as their username?!) which would conflict with their “Comfortable” principle.
“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.)”
Well now we know why those cumbersome friend codes are in use, even if the logic of it all seems a bit… weird.