The Nintendo Switch is the future, and while that’s been clear for some time, it looks like Nintendo is making it official. The Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 3DS eShops will be closing their doors in “late March” 2023 — though the majority of people will lose practical access much sooner.
According to the official Nintendo support page, you won’t be able to add any Wii U and 3DS eShop funds from a credit card after May 23, 2022. Gift cards will then be valid until August 29, 2022, but existing download codes can be redeemed until next March.
After this date any remaining balance tied to your Nintendo account will only be usable from the Nintendo Switch eShop.
In other words, if there are any digital 3DS or Wii U games you’ve had your eye on, you’ll want to get them bought within the next three to six months. After that you’ll need to rely on physical cartridges, or less than legal methods.
Fortunately, those of you with an extensive digital library already don’t need to worry about much. Games, DLC and software updates will still be available to download for “for the foreseeable future." So you don’t necessarily need to stock up on expandable storage to keep hold of all your digital assets.
Likewise Nintendo also confirmed that online services and features will stick around for a bit longer, as ”there are no plans to make any further changes at this time." You just won't be able to pay for any that require actual money.
The writing has been on the wall for the 3DS and Wii U since the Switch became such a big success, and the fact both systems are over a decade old. But this news still stings. Especially since the 3DS system became home to a number of remastered classic games that are unavailable on newer hardware.
The handheld may not have been the most ergonomic device for adult gamers, but it meant those much-loved titles still had a lease on life long after their original consoles were retired.
eShop closures further highlight Nintendo’s Classic Games problems
Kotaku also spotted some more depressing news, which seems to have been removed from the official Q&A at the time of writing, seemingly confirming the fact Nintendo has no plans to offer those classic games elsewhere.
Of course, Nintendo already has a number of classic titles available on the Switch, but only to the people who subscribe to various tiers of Nintendo Switch Online. The base subscription is $4 a month, or $20 a year, and offers access to a select number of NES and SNES games.
Meanwhile the Expansion Pack, which adds access to select Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games, costs $50 for a year — more than double the price. The next one to hit the service is long-time fan-favorite The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
That's absolutely not the same as being able to buy those games to keep, even if they are digital. While gaming subscriptions are not uncommon, competing products like Xbox Game Pass at least give you the option of purchasing bundled games as standalone titles. Or in the case of Xbox, playing the original disk in the latest hardware.
Even past Nintendo consoles had the Virtual Console, which let classic digital games run on the Wii, Wii U and 3DS. However, any platform-specific purchases wouldn’t transfer from, say Wii to Wii U or vice versa. Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have any sort of Virtual Console functionality.
We can hope that things might change, especially since that note about classic titles has vanished from the official Q&A. But this is Nintendo we’re talking about, and experience tells me that we shouldn’t get our hopes up.
Long live the Nintendo Switch, I guess.