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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

2023's Demise of the Wii U and 3DS Nintendo eShops (Explained!)

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Plus, my very skewed Memories.

Today Nintendo of America announced their end-of-life timeline for the Wii U and 3DS eShops. (This also applies to the rest of the world.) Let's break that down together. It's sort of reminiscent of the Wii Shop Channel closing after 12 years... which will be around the same amount of time that the 3DS's eShop will have been open, actually.

About the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS eShops closing and timelines

According to the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS eShop Discontinuation support article, as of May 23 2022, you won't be able to use a credit card to add funds to your Wii U or 3DS eShop account. As of August 29 2022, you won't be able to use a Nintendo eShop card—these include the prizes that KoopaTV gives away as part of the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program that currently say on the back side: “For use with these systems:” with logos of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U. I guess they'll need to reprint those.

Those deadlines aren't terribly frightening, because if you have a Nintendo Switch (and you likely do own a Switch if you own a Wii U and/or 3DS, since more Switch consoles have been sold than Wii Us and the 3DS family combined... and if you don't, what are you waiting for?), you can just merge your eShop account balances. That way, if you add money via credit card or eShop card to your Switch, the funds will be accessible on the Wii U/3DS. But the real problem is that in “late March 2023” (update: March 27, 2023) you will not be able to purchase anything on the Wii U or 3DS eShops, even if you have the money to do so. This includes new games, retailers selling download codes for games (if they still do that), paid 3DS themes, and free demos, but does not include redownloading games you've already purchased.

That's a problem in that there are many games that will be inaccessible for new purchases across any platform by April 2023. When Nintendo first released their support article (and when I first read it), there was a question about Nintendo's “obligation to preserve its classic games by continually making them available for purchase” that has since been deleted. However, unlike these 3DS and Wii U games, the original version of the support article was preserved and archived here. Basically, Nintendo said you should use Nintendo Switch Online's emulators on the Switch, which they claim is “an effective way to make classic content easily available” with no current plans to provide content in other ways. Somehow I don't think we'll see the likes of Paper Mario: Sticker Star on Nintendo Switch Online, ever. (And I guess it's up to third-party publishers to port their older titles to the Switch.) Feel free to wonder if it's more confusing or crazy that Nintendo published this statement to begin with versus their decision to delete it. But here's where I'll talk personally:

My Wii U and 3DS Memories

Nintendo also opened up a “My Nintendo 3DS & Wii U Memories” website where if you log in with your Nintendo Account, it will consolidate your playtime stats up to “late February 2020.” I guess somehow the Chinese Communist Party Virus pandemic stopped Nintendo's telemetry? First, I'll show you my 3DS stats:

My 3DS Memories Pocket Card Jockey most unforgettable game Super Smash Bros. Kid Icarus Uprising Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon
These are... pretty final, with some curiosities.
While you still can, buy Pocket Card Jockey. It's only $7. And has a free demo.
(And the Ace Attorney games stuck on the 3DS, such as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney–Dual Destinies, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney–Spirit of Justice, and if you really want, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.)

It turns out I only played about an hour on my 3DS during the entirety of 2021, and the final stats from my 3DS's Activity Log are pretty close to what you see above. And you can see that the Ace Attorney games being considered RPGs on the Nintendo 3DS eShop is coming back to skew the stat breakdowns. Regardless, my top titles are well-distributed. The last new game I've bought on my 3DS is Culdcept Revolt back at the start of 2019.

My Wii U Memories Paper Mario Color Splash most unforgettable game Super Smash Bros. Splatoon Rayman Legends Challenge App
Don't trust these stats.
There are very few games on the Wii U that aren't outright outclassed by games on the Switch.
Paper Mario: Color Splash is one of those. And Wii U Virtual Console purchases are where you'll find the others.

There are two big reasons why those Wii U stats above aren't trustworthy. Number one, I actually did play my Wii U after 2020—if it counted until the end of 2021, you would see Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (from the Virtual Console) in third place (with 80-something hours—I played both campaigns and did the Creature Campaign too) instead of the Rayman Legends: Challenge App from early 2013.

Number two, and by far the most important, is that I was on Miiverse with my Wii U for about 3,605 hours. The screenshot above portrays my Wii U as a Super Smash Bros. For Wii U machine, but in reality, it was BY FAR a Miiverse machine. And if you count Miiverse, which you should, then I was actually on my Wii U a lot more than my 3DS. And I'm pretty sure more than my Switch (so far). Of course, in terms of game library, the Switch is way, way better, which is how you end up with the Rayman Legends: Challenge App in contention for one of the most played games (I'm not sure how I played it more than Rayman Legends itself). And that's probably why Nintendo is doing this shutdown, since everyone else should realise that by 2023 and it's not worth the maintenance cost anymore.

Feel free to discuss your feelings around these twin closings, which will formally make the Nintendo Switch Nintendo's only supported platform. WELL, the online play is still open on the Wii U and 3DS either way, with no plans to do otherwise. Smart game publishers and indies will be sure to have their Wii U and 3DS titles on sale repeatedly between now and 2023 so you feel compelled to buy them before you are no longer able to. If that gets you to buy an Ace Attorney game when you otherwise wouldn't have, that's a good thing.

CAPCOM puts their 3DS Ace Attorney games on sale at $5 each a month later.
The very last sale the 3DS eShop gets features $3 games.
And so the stores are no longer available for new purchases...


  1. This legitimately makes me sad. So many eshop exclusive titles are gonna be lost, not to mention the ones where the developers may have gone defunct or simply don’t care about the game they made.

    I suppose the only game I’ve yet to personally get from the eshop that I’ve had my mind on is Kidicarus Uprising. I also wanted to get boxboy or the rest of the Pushmo series, but I guess the cards aren’t in my favor there. Pushmo is wiiu/3DS exclusive, but I suppose you can get boxboy on switch.

    Had to happen eventually, but we never wish it to happen now.

    1. The only thing that might really upset me is if I suddenly feel like impulse-buying a Virtual Console game or something. Otherwise I'm very much all set on the library.

      My 3DS and Wii U are kinda disasters with zero battery life anyway so I'm happy to put it to pasture. Played my GameCube more last year. :)


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