Nintendo is not exactly riding high in the games market right now, but even it must discontinue old services to focus on new ones. On May 20, Nintendo will take its Wii and DS systems offline for good, removing online play for popular games like "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" and "Mario Kart DS."
The reasoning here is not hard to understand: running servers and services for online games costs money, and Nintendo is not generating much revenue from the Wii and the DS anymore. In order to focus its attention on the ailing Wii U and the strong 3DS (plus whatever it decides to do next), Nintendo will remove online functionality from its older games.
Nintendo has provided a complete list of titles that will lose their online play components, including a slew of Pokémon games for the DS and the ultra-popular Nintendo mascot fighting game "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" on the Wii. Wii Speak and the Wii Speak channel, which allowed limited voice chat, will also disappear.
Wii and DS owners who still want to purchase games online need not worry; the shop channels for the two systems are not going anywhere yet. Likewise, local multiplayer (two or more players on the couch together) for both the Wii and DS are still intact. This service cut will not affect the offline content of any game on the list.
That said, if you have any interest in getting your name on a leaderboard or acquiring any downloadable content (such as extra levels) for your games, you should do it sooner rather than later. Any online service that requires in-game navigation will be completely unavailable after May 20.
Nintendo's strategy is indicative of a larger trend in the gaming sphere, where consumers pay full price for a game at release, knowing full well that it will become a crippled, or even inaccessible, product a few years down the line when online functionality disappears. This problem will only continue to grow as games for connected consoles like the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One grow more dependent on online components.
For now, enjoy "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" while you can; it'll be the last time you can play the series online until the new installment for Wii U and 3DS launches later in 2014.