In brief: Nintendo has announced that it is shutting down online stores for both the Wii U and 3DS systems in late March 2023, potentially marking the end of one of its least successful and one of its most successful products.
Nintendo writes that it will no longer be possible to make purchases in the eShop for either console of late March next year. Users also won't be able to download free content, including game demos, or redeem download codes. However, they will still be able to redownload previously bought games and DLC, receive software updates, and play online after this point.
We thank you for supporting Nintendo eShop on Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.--- Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) February 16, 2022
Additionally, you may also look back on your time with them via various play statistics: https://t.co/YCkkVFaQ7i
The changes will start taking place on May 23, 2022. At this point, it will no longer be possible to use a credit card to add funds to a Nintendo eShop account on Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS devices. On August 29, 2022, Nintendo will stop allowing eShop gift cards as a way of adding funds to those accounts.
Additionally, any users who've linked their Nintendo Network ID wallet with their Nintendo Account wallet won't be able to use the shared balance to purchase Wii U or 3DS content after late March 2023. After this date, the balance can only be used to buy content for the Nintendo Switch.
The Verge notes that the change will mean users won't be able to buy classic Virtual Console games from the eShop. Part of Nintendo's FAQ called "Doesn't Nintendo have an obligation to preserve its classic games by continually making them available for purchase?" pointed retro fans toward the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service instead. It stated, "We currently have no plans to offer classic content in other ways." That entire FAQ section has since been removed.
They deleted it! https://t.co/SH8i7uxHa6--- AmericanTruckSongs8 (@ethangach) February 16, 2022
Nintendo says the move "is part of the natural lifecycle for any product line as it becomes less used by consumers over time." The 3DS family, which sold almost 76 million units over its lifetime, was discontinued on September 16, 2020.
The follow-up to the 100 million+ selling Wii, the Wii U, was one of Nintendo's least successful consoles. It sold just 13.56 million units between its release in 2012 and its discontinuation in 2017. For comparison, the two-year-old PS5 has already outsold it, and the Xbox Series X/S will likely do the same very soon.
In other Nintendo news this week, the company publicly thanked authorities after hacker Gary Bowser, a prominent member of the Team Xecuter hacking group, was handed a 40-month prison sentence for two piracy-related federal felonies.
Image credit: Chiara Sakuwa