Nintendo’s Shutdown of Wii U and 3DS eShops Sparks Video Game Preservation Concerns

Russell Kidson
Mar 27, 2023

Today, on March 27th, 2023 at 8PM ET, Nintendo will be discontinuing the digital storefronts for their Wii U and 3DS systems. While it will no longer be possible to purchase games or downloadable content from the eShop, users will still be able to access and redownload the games they have previously bought, and continue to play games online, albeit for a limited time.

Nintendo had previously announced the shutdown last year and stopped users from adding funds to their Wii U and 3DS eShops in August. The closure of these digital storefronts will unfortunately result in the loss of access to a plethora of great digital-only titles available on either store, including but not limited to Dr. Luigi, Pokémon Rumble U, Pushmo, and Pokémon Picross.

In addition to the discontinuation of purchasing games and DLC from the eShop, the shutdown of Nintendo's Wii U and 3DS digital storefronts will also eliminate the ability to purchase the full range of Virtual Console games on these platforms. This is particularly unfortunate, as the standalone digital classics were once available without requiring a subscription, which was a perk of the old days.

The eShop shutdowns will result in the loss of approximately 1,000 digital-only games, as per an analysis conducted by VGC. The news gets even more disheartening when it's revealed that around 530 of these games are Virtual Console titles, with about 335 of them not yet available through Nintendo Switch Online. This will undoubtedly be a huge loss for fans of classic Nintendo games.

The decision by Nintendo to shut down its Wii U and 3DS eShops is a major setback in the realm of video game preservation. Apart from wiping some games from history, this move will also create barriers for those who still own and play these platforms, especially for accessing specific games that may only be available digitally.

Furthermore, certain games, such as Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton on 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker HD, have become quite expensive in the used game market, while their digital versions have retained their original prices. This means that gamers who are not able to afford the inflated prices of the physical copies will no longer have the option to purchase the games digitally, which ultimately limits their access to these titles.


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