Nintendo to Shut Down Wii U and 3DS eShops in 2023

Nintendo to Shut Down Wii U and 3DS eShops in 2023

On February 15th, 2022, Nintendo announced plans to discontinue support for the Wii U and 3DS eShops by March of 2023. According to the post on Nintendo’s customer support page, “As of late March 2023, it will no longer be possible to make purchases in Nintendo eShop for the Wii U system and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.”. Not only will the ability to make purchases end, but so will being able to download free content like game demos as well as being able to add funds to a Nintendo account via prepaid cards purchased at retail. 

While the post broadly speaks of ending services by March of 2023, it is important to note that these restrictions on adding wallet funds are ending much sooner. According to the support page, you won’t be able to add funds via a credit card beyond May 23, 2022, and for the prepaid retail cards, the cutoff is August 29, 2022. 

According to the page’s Q&A section, services are ending as “part of the natural life cycle for any product line as it becomes less used by consumers over time”. They are announcing this news a full year before the date of complete store closure so “users will have plenty of time to prepare.”. As of right now there are no plans to discontinue services such as online play for the systems. And probably the most confusing (or not so confusing depending on how you view Nintendo’s business practice), there are no plans to transfer over content from these digital storefronts to the Nintendo Switch in any way. 

This news comes after Sony had announced they intended to shut down digital stores for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation Vita in 2021. Due to a large amount of backlash, Sony decided to delay the decision to close the PS3 and Vita storefronts indefinitely. Nintendo rarely makes decisions based on the backlash from consumers so it is hard to imagine them reverting this decision. Comments underneath the tweet announcing the news are filled with people pointing out this decision removes games that are not legally obtainable any other way, people advocating for video game preservation, people suggesting others pirate software, among other jokes ridiculing the decision. 

One aspect about the decision others have been discussing online is the ramifications this will have on the used game market. In the past several years, prices on the used game market have skyrocketed. Physical copies of certain Wii U and 3DS games easily reach above $100 USD, and the closing of the digital storefronts and the removal of being able to purchase digital versions of these titles will likely increase the price on these titles. Physical games like Devil’s Third on Wii U, Fire Emblem Fates Special Edition (which is the only way to have both FE Fates games and the DLC on a cartridge) on 3DS, or even legacy games like Metroid Zero Mission or the Metroid Prime Trilogy fetch crazy numbers on sites like eBay. We saw last year with the announcement of Metroid Dread that digital versions of the older Metroid games flew to the top of Wii U sales charts. So it’s disappointing to see Nintendo has no plan at this time of making these titles available on their current hardware. 

The other big aspect of the conversation is games preservation. There are games available on these eShops such as the DSiWare game Warioware Snapped that are only available to download digitally. The closure of this storefront means many games like this will in a sense disappear, not to mention any other DLC content for games on Wii U or 3DS. It becomes the players' responsibility to ensure this game isn’t forgotten or lost by downloading it before the store closure, which wouldn’t be an issue if Nintendo had plans to bring this content forward onto Nintendo Switch. 

So, if there are any games you think you would like to play on 3DS or Wii U that you might not want to track down a physical copy for or pay an arm and a leg for, now is the time. Cheap Ass Gamer on Twitter posted a thread of games that are already fairly expensive on the second-hand market that players might be interested in purchasing for the more affordable digital price. Hopefully, Nintendo will come around to seeing the monetary and historical value in preserving their back catalog for players and will deliver a similar offering on Nintendo Switch, but we aren’t holding our breath.

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