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Wii Want To Die

I was working as an intern, which means I helped out with all manner of work including some very strange marketing projects involving the Nintendo Wii.

The boss man sheepishly explained the situation: Nintendo only gives you the money for the sales of your game upon hitting certain sales thresholds, and our game was reaaaally close to getting there, but sales had slowed and we needed the money before the fiscal quarter ended. He had pleaded with Nintendo to no avail, so, with a Wii in his hands, he gave me the project from hell. Get the Wii friend codes of some people who would like our game, and gift the game to them for free. Sounds great! We aimed for 200 gifted games.

Here, I learned the reasons why a Wii is not set up to handle this sort of volume. Let me walk you through the process.

In order to gift anything, a mutual friendship must occur. You add their Wii number, they add yours, and it takes a day-ish for the system to accept the bond. I believe you can have a max of 50 friends in your address book. That made gifting 200 people very difficult. I had to hope that they read the email, entered my Wii code correctly, and submitted theirs correctly as well. Sometimes they just wouldn’t add. One less gift to worry about, then!

It takes a while for the connection to occur. A lot of the time I was staring at greyed-out names (I entered the names as numbers, ranging from 01, eventually all the way to 247) waiting for it to accept.

Alas, a connection! Time to gift. Go through the complicated storefront, find the game, gift to friends list. ...Then, keep track of ones I gifted so I don’t try to send it again and waste time. Have to exit all the way to my address book to manually change the names of the ones I gifted this round.

I’d get a confirmation mail that the gift was picked up. I’d delete the recipient from the address book. I’d add more. I’d wait. Every day 2-5 more would show up ready for gifting. I would gift. Wait. Delete. Add. Wait. Repeat. Every day. We needed to gift 200 of these.

To prevent fraud, you cannot have more than $50 or $60 of Wii points in your account at one time. It caps out. That means if I gift 5 games at $10 apiece, I have to go all the way back through the store, input my credit card number manually, including the full billing address. Every 5 games. Sometimes I didn’t have a USB keyboard on hand and had to do it with the wiimote.

Wii sometimes switches up the position of buttons in the prompts. Wanna gift a game? Go find it. Gift it, you say? To which friend? Are you sure? Here’s the kick. At the very end, the “are you sure” prompt, they switch the buttons around on you. What was once “OK” becomes swapped with “CANCEL.” Thus, a zealous gifter such as I had pressed many a Cancel button. But it doesn’t just take you back to the gifting screen. It exits you out of the whole 9-button-path process and you end up at the storefront. Fresh and ready to rage.

The process was nebulous. Did we get credit for the game at the time that WE bought and sent it? Or was it when they picked it up? If we immediately deleted them from our friends list after sending the game, do they still get the game gifted to them or does it disappear? The address book was rather small, I needed more room to add new codes in a timely manner. I called in to Nintendo support about whether I could gift a game then immediately delete the recipient from my address book, and spent 20 minutes talking to a woman who, in the end, told me I should contact the developer of the game in question. Yes. I’ll get right on that. Oh wait. That’s me, and you’re useless.

The process took me about a month.

I checked it every day of my winter break. I took it to my family’s house on Christmas.

My boss did not understand why it was going so slowly, and found ways to ignore it when I explained to him how laborious the process was with a step-by-step document I made for any unfortunate interns to inherit the program after me.

It ended successfully. Then, 2 months later, they asked me to do it again for Europe… I was let go 2 months afterward, just shy of a year of work. Then I found the best job of my life. I guess things happen for a reason.