What is a Nintendo Network ID?

What is a Nintendo Network ID? 3ds and wii u consoles

Nintendo fans who have been around for a while may have observed that after the release of the Nintendo Switch, the Japanese company replaced the Nintendo Network ID with the Nintendo Account. Managing multiple Nintendo accounts can be confusing, so what is a Nintendo Network ID?

With the shutdown of the Wii U and 3DS digital storefronts, gamers were left a bit confused on what was going to happen to their Nintendo Network IDs. And how does those IDs differ from the Nintendo Account you’re using to buy games on the Switch?

So if you're interested in knowing how to successfully merge those different accounts, along with how to associate the NNID with the current Nintendo Account, read our guide to find out what is a Nintendo Network ID

What is a Nintendo Network ID?

The Nintendo Network ID (NNID) is a distinct identification code consisting of 6 to 16 characters, enabling you to utilize specific Nintendo Network services. The Japanese company really pushed gamers to register the same Nintendo Network ID on both their Nintendo 3DS and Wii U consoles in order to have a smooth experience.

Then, on March 27th, 2023 at 8PM ET, Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS digital storefronts were shut down. While you’re no longer able to purchase games or DLC from either eShop, you’re still able to download again the games you’ve already bought and play online for the time being, until March 2024.

Although this shutdown was sad, it didn’t come unexpectedly, Nintendo had initially cautioned us about it last year and began prohibiting users from depositing funds into the Wii U and 3DS eShops in August.

Nevertheless you could still have some funds left on your Wii U and 3DS eShop, therefore connecting these two accounts simplifies the transfer of funds between them. For instance, if you have a significant amount of money stored in your Nintendo Network ID account, but want to transfer it and use it to buy some more recent titles on the Nintendo Switch eShop instead, you can still accomplish this. At least, until March 2024 comes around.

Differences between Nintendo Network ID and Nintendo Account

Prior to March 27, 2023, the Nintendo Network IDs were used for purchasing downloadable software through the Nintendo eShop on both the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS consoles. It might be interesting to note that, back then, it wasn't mandatory to have a Nintendo Network ID in order to buy downloadable content from the Nintendo eShop on the 3DS portable console.

Registering a Nintendo Network ID to your Wii U or Nintendo 3DS still enables you to experience a wide variety of network services, such as posting on Miiverse and experiencing online multiplayer interactions. These still work, for the moment.

On the other hand, a Nintendo Account is an online account that enables you to utilize online services like eShop and online play on the Nintendo Switch console. Additionally, a Nintendo Account provides users with entry to the My Nintendo Rewards system. Basically, you can think of the Nintendo Account as the successor to the Nintendo Network ID, but - for the moment - you can only use it on the Switch.

Now that we know the main important differences between the Nintendo Network ID and Nintendo Account, let's see how we can link these two to transfer funds. There are mainly two ways: the first is using a Computer or a smartphone, while the other is using your Nintendo Switch.

The easiest way to do merge both accounts is through the Nintendo Account website:

  • the first thing you need to do is going Nintendo Account website and log in with your username and password;
  • Scroll down until you find the Linked Accounts section;
  • Press Edit;
  • Select Nintendo Network ID, and fill in your username and password to link your accounts.

Instead, if you wish to link your NNID and your Nintendo Account using directly your console the steps you need to follow are:

  • from the Nintendo Switch home screen, select your user icon ;
  • Navigate to Friend Selections, and with the L and R buttons, select the Wii U or 3DS icon, and click on Next. Keep in mind that if the Next button is inactive and you can't pick it, it implies that you have already linked your accounts;
  • Type in your Nintendo Account password, press Okay, then press Next;
  • Type in your Nintendo Network ID username and password and press Sign In to link your accounts.

As a little recognition for your efforts for juggling different accounts, connecting these two will grant you Nintendo Platinum points that you can exchange on the My Nintendo website. At least, Nintendo does seem to be aware of how slightly confusing the situation is!

To display the Wii U and 3DS icons, your Nintendo Switch menu must be upgraded to version 3.0 or higher. Therefore, be sure to upgrade your system before initiating the procedure.

How to retrieve a forgotten Nintendo Network ID

There is a simple procedure you can use to retrieve your Nintendo Network ID, both on Wii U or 3DS family system.

You can retrieve your NNID on your Wii U console following these steps:

  • Open the user-selection screen, your ID will be displayed there in orange colour, just below your nickname.
  • Just write it down and log-in

On a linked system in the Nintendo 3DS family:

  • Open System Settings, and then Nintendo Network ID Settings;
  • Your ID will be displayed on the sign-in screen, just below your nickname.

If these two methods fail, you can still retrieve your NNID by following this link.

We hope we answered all your doubts and perplexities about NNID, Nintendo Account and how to manage them. Now that you are a real pro life will be a lot easier, and as a little recognition prize for your efforts for juggling different accounts, connecting these two will grant you Nintendo Platinum points that you can exchange on the My Nintendo website. Not bad indeed.

For more articles like this, take a look at our Guides and Nintendo page.