Nintendo finally decides to draw the curtains on Wii U and 3DS eShops after March 2023 effectively curtailing prospects of fully owning classic games
It was on expected lines, but Nintendo's announcement to cease eShop operations for the Wii U and the 3DS may not go down well with fans of the classic gaming consoles. In a post titled, "Wii U and Nintendo 3DS eShop Discontinuation", Nintendo confirmed that purchases in the Nintendo eShop will not be possible for the Wii U and 3DS family of consoles after March 2023.
The Nintendo Switch is the current focus of the company, but the Wii U and 3DS marketplaces have been kept alive for anyone wishing to purchase games for those platforms. However, this will end as of March 2023. It won't be a sudden closure of the eShop, however. According to Nintendo, the following is the chronology of events leading to the ultimate cessation of sales of classic games:
- May 23, 2022: You won't be able to use credit cards to add funds to your Wii U or 3DS eShop accounts
- August 29, 2022: You won't be able to use eShop gift cards to add funds for the Wii U and 3DS
- Late March, 2023: You won't be able to redeem any game codes or use money in your Nintendo Wallet to buy Wii U or 3DS games. However, that balance can be used to purchase content for the Switch family.
While new transactions for the Wii U and 3DS will not be possible from March 2023, Nintendo did confirm that users can redownload games, DLCs, existing software updates, and enjoy online play on the Wii U and 3DS for the "foreseeable future". 3DS users will also be able to download a small selection of free themes from the Theme Shop after March 2023.
Nintendo said that this is part of the "natural lifecycle" for these systems, which is hardly surprising given that the consoles themselves are more than a decade old by now. However, Nintendo did a faux pas with the blog post that has irked fans a lot.
In the initial version of the blog, Nintendo mentioned a question, which read,
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?"
And the answer to that was,
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."
The last line is particularly discouraging. Though a decent selection classic games are available via Nintendo Switch Online subscription plans, it is not the same as actually owning Virtual Console titles for yourself not to mention the relatively smaller library in the online subscription.
With no scope for making new purchases after March 2023, users of these classic game consoles will have to plan content purchases well before the eShop winds down for good.