Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection friend codes are used in Nintendo DS and Wii titles that support online functionality. Users exchange their friend code with other users to create a list of friends they can play with online. The reason for the friend code system is to assure that younger players can only interact with people they know rather than complete strangers. Most online games for Nintendo systems also feature an option to play with random players online, but any method of communication is restricted.
Many gamers have criticized the use of friend codes. The codes are long and clumsy to enter in making it difficult for players to establish a long list of friends. To make the matter worse each game has its own friend code which means players have to start a new friend list from scratch for every new online game. For all the inconvenience it causes for the sake of safety the harshest knock against the friend code system is how easily a player can connect to the internet and exchange friend codes with strangers.
This approach contrasts with that used by Microsoft's Xbox Live (on Xbox and Xbox 360) and Sony's PlayStation Network (on PlayStation 3). On both of those services, users can add friends simply by knowing the other person's nickname, which is readily available when playing against someone else. In both cases, a user must approve a friend request, and on Xbox 360, parents can disable a child's ability to add friends or receive friend requests through family settings.
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