Is there a digital-only 3DS/2DS or Wii U game you’ve never got round to playing? Now’s the time to purchase it because next year it’ll be gone.
As Nintendo revealed yesterday, as of March 2023, you’ll no longer be able to purchase new content for the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 2DS or Nintendo Wii U consoles, nor will you be able to download free demos.
If you’ve already purchased a game before that date, you’ll be able to re-download it as many times as you want. In theory, that is – given that Nintendo eventually discontinued the Nintendo DSi and original Wii’s internet support, there’ll be a point when that’s no longer an option.
But why is it a big deal? You can still buy games on cartridges, right? Not exactly. As catalogued by the unofficial Nintendo wiki, there are over 400 Nintendo 3DS games which are digital only and were never available on cartridge. The same site reveals that there are over 200 digital only Wii U games.
So, as of March 2023, all those titles, which have been worked upon by hundreds of people, perhaps even thousands or tens of thousands, will be lost to the future. Even the ones that are available on cartridge (or in the Wii U’s case, disc) will likely be subject to price hikes. 2DS owners are in the same boat since that console plays 3DS games without the 3D effect.
What’s Nintendo doing about this? Not an awful lot, really. They’ve given would-be purchasers a year’s notice to grab their games, but there are a couple of intervening steps that will make it harder to buy 3DS and Wii U games.
As of May 23, 2022, you won’t be able to use a credit card on those systems – you’ll have to link the account with your Nintendo Wallet and load it on another platform. And as of August 2023, you won’t be able to use an eShop cards on the Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, though they can still be used on the Nintendo Switch.
According to Kotaku, Nintendo’s FAQ about the announcement did originally feature a question that asked “Doesn’t Nintendo have an obligation to preserve its classic games by continually making them available for purchase?”
Nintendo’s reply was to plug their Nintendo Switch Online catalogue, which doesn’t contain any 3DS or Wii U titles, then state.. “We currently have no plans to offer classic content in other ways.” Sony did change their position on closing down the Vita and PS3 stores, so there’s always the possibility of a reprieve. But this situation should serve as reminder that, despite the push for digital gaming, nothing is forever.