The Wii U and Nintendo 3DS digital storefronts are shutting down tomorrow, March 27th, 2023. While you’ll no longer be able to purchase games or DLC from either eShop, you’ll still be able to redownload the games you’ve already bought and play online for the time being.
Nintendo first warned us of the shutdown last year and started barring users from loading money into the Wii U and 3DS eShops in August. Sadly, this imminent shutdown means we’ll have to bid farewell to the hundreds of great digital-only titles available on either store, such as Dr. Luigi, Pokemon Rumble U, Pushmo, Pokémon Picross, and many others.
The closures will also make it impossible to purchase the full range of Virtual Console games on the 3DS and Wii U, which I’ll personally miss the most. (Remember when Nintendo actually let us buy from a huge selection of standalone digital classics without a subscription? Those were the days.) We’re going to lose around 1,000 digital-only games as a result of the eShop shutdowns, according to an analysis from VGC, and if that’s not upsetting enough, VGC says around 530 of those games are Virtual Console titles — about 335 of which aren’t even available through Nintendo Switch Online yet.
Nintendo’s shutdown of the Wii U and 3DS eShops is a step back in video game preservation. In addition to literally wiping some games from history, it will also make it more difficult for people who still own and play the Wii U and 3DS to access certain games even if they are available as physical copies. After all, the physical versions of some games, like Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton on 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker HD have soared in price thanks to the used game market, all while the digital versions maintain their original price.