False hope: Nintendo downloads still only work “for the system you bought them on” UPDATE

UPDATE: Nintendo has this to say about digital transfers: “System Transfer is a feature that enables you to transfer downloadable software already purchased on a Nintendo 3DS system or DSi to another Nintendo 3DS… There is a limit to how many times transfers can be made. Some software may not be transferred.” (Thanks, Chelsea.) Better, but still not ideal. Limited? Only some? Why not all?

ORIGINAL: People were excited last week when Nintendo announced it would allow transfers of downloaded DS games to newly purchased 3DS units, suggesting that their current and backwards policy of tying downloads to a device instead of a buyer would be over.

Turns out, that’s not the case, says Nintendo. “Once you’ve bought it, it’s for the system you bought it on,” said Nintendo’s Bill Trinen, when asked by Wired if downloaded eShop games on 3DS would be transferrable.

Translation: Nintendo will let you transfer downloaded games from DS to 3DS as a one time exception. After that, your downloads are stuck on the system they’re downloaded to, a la DS and Wii.

What does that mean for you? You’ll probably want to avoid downloading Nintendo games at all costs. At the least, this would disuade informed consumers from downloading a lot of games, knowing they might not be able to recover them later.

The news comes as every other major download service lets buyers legally transfer their paid content to compatible devices, including iTunes, Amazon, Steam, PlayStation, Xbox, and iPhone purchases to name a few.

See also: Nintendo “looking into” download management issues