In a post titled “Wii U & Nintendo 3DS eShop Discontinuation”, Nintendo just announced that in March 2023 the online storefronts for both systems will be ceasing operations.
But in a practical sense the closures will begin a lot sooner than that:
– As of May 23, 2022, it will no longer be possible to use a credit card to add funds to an account in Nintendo eShop on Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.
– As of August 29, 2022, it will no longer be possible to use a Nintendo eShop Card to add funds to an account in Nintendo eShop on Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. However, it will still be possible to redeem download codes until late March 2023.
In terms of people playing and enjoying the games they already own, Nintendo says:
Even after late March 2023, and for the foreseeable future, it will still be possible to redownload games and DLC, receive software updates and enjoy online play on Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.
All of this is expected stuff. The 3DS is 11 years old this year and the Wii U ten, so digital store closures were always going to happen sooner or later. What’s shitty about these closures in particular, though, is that both shopfronts offered users the ability to purchase and then own many of Nintendo’s greatest ever titles, something you’re now largely unable to do ever since the company switched to a subscription model with Nintendo Switch Online.
The company saw this coming. When the blog post was first made, an associated FAQ had the following exchange:
Once it is no longer possible to purchase software in Nintendo eShop on Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems, many classic games for past platforms will cease to be available for purchase anywhere. Will you make classic games available to own some other way? If not, then why? Doesn’t Nintendo have an obligation to preserve its classic games by continually making them available for purchase?
Across our Nintendo Switch Online membership plans, over 130 classic games are currently available in growing libraries for various legacy systems. The games are often enhanced with new features such as online play.
We think this is an effective way to make classic content easily available to a broad range of players. Within these libraries, new and longtime players can not only find games they remember or have heard about, but other fun games they might not have thought to seek out otherwise.
We currently have no plans to offer classic content in other ways.
“We currently have no plans to offer classic content in other ways” is an incredibly shitty thing to read, because under zero circumstances is a subscription-based model an acceptable substitution to actually owning a game.
Especially wild, then, is the fact that not long after publishing this, Nintendo wiped that particular section of the Q&A from its site. Go and check it now and the “Doesn’t Nintendo have an obligation to preserve its classic games by continually making them available for purchase?” part is gone.