In brief: Nintendo shut down the Wii's digital store in 2019, making many exclusive games inaccessible. If modders complete work on Rii Shop, Wiis running custom firmware will regain the ability to browse the store and download all of its software at no cost. It's unclear whether Nintendo can shut the project down.

An unofficial version of the Wii Shop, where Wii owners once bought and downloaded digital software, recently entered public beta. Many critical functions, including downloading games and apps, don't work yet, but the venture aims to revive the store's entire catalog.

A video demonstration shows that browsing the Rii Shop, formerly called LaunchShop, looks nearly identical to the official Wii store. The interface, store listings, and iconic Wii Shop music are all unchanged. Users can browse general-purpose apps like streaming services in the Wii Channels section and digital Wii titles in the WiiWare selection. However, Virtual Console, where Nintendo sold hundreds of classic titles, isn't yet available.

All downloads will be free once they become functional. Users will still "purchase" games and apps with Wii points, but no actual monetary transactions will occur.

Wii owners could no longer buy digital content on the console after 2019. Although they can still re-download previously purchased items, that functionality will eventually disappear, making Rii Shop likely one of the last methods for new users to acquire Wii-exclusive digital-only titles. Nintendo also phased out new purchases on the Wii U and 3DS but will continue allowing users to re-download existing purchases indefinitely.

Nintendo is notorious for its legal assaults on those offering pirated copies of its games, so the company certainly won't take kindly to Rii Shop. However, hacked Nintendo consoles have long enjoyed easy access to unofficial digital distribution channels like homebrew catalogs. It's unknown whether Nintendo can easily shut down an unofficial Wii Shop.

The company blocked an unofficial store for digital 3DS software in 2018. However, Nintendo was still actively selling 3DS games then, and the homebrew app pulled downloads from Nintendo's servers. Conversely, Wii Shop purchases have been unavailable for years, and it isn't clear whether Rii Shop uses Nintendo's servers.

Trying the Rii Shop beta requires jailbreaking a Wii – a slightly complex process. Then, download the necessary Rii Shop files from the developer's Discord server onto an SD card and insert the card into the Wii. The app should appear as a channel on the main menu screen.