It's no secret that the Switch has been a massive hit for Nintendo. Its 2017 launch was questioned by the industry. It launched in March, nowhere near the holiday season. Its launch lineup was sparse. It was coming off the embarrassing era of its previous console, the Wii U. Nintendo overcame its stumbles and now the Switch is everywhere. In turn, the Big N has given the green light to shutter the eShop for the Wii U.
Kyle Orland at Ars Technica covers this news while also covering the fact that the eShop digital store for the 3DS portable console will be shuttered too.
Players will have until "late March 2023" to purchase any of the hundreds of games available on those eShops. But customers will have to add funds to their shop accounts well before that full shutdown—by May 23 for credit card funding and August 29 for redeeming physical eShop cards. A shared balance with a Nintendo Account wallet (as used on the Switch) will also work on the older platforms up through the March 2023 shutdown.Ars Technica
While new purchases will be cut off, Nintendo writes that players will be able to redownload previous purchases on these platforms "for the foreseeable future." Online services and software updates will still be supported as well, but free demos and "free-to-start" games will no longer be downloadable on either platform. Switch services will not be affected.
The shutdown of the eShop on the Wii U is no surprise. Nintendo wants to put that console far in the past. They've made a concerted effort to port every viable Wii U game to the Switch. Mario Kart, Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad, and tons more on Switch were originally Wii U games. The shutdown of the eShop for the 3DS is a sadder occasion.
The 3DS overcame huge obstacles from a dud into a major portable console. Nintendo thought it was a good successor to the Game Boy, but it took price adjustments and other changes to rocket it into a force. However, just like the Switch killed the Wii U, it does double-duty by also killing the 3DS. The DS is an amazing portable console, but cannot match the Switch. Technology is far improved on it. The DS may have an incredible library, but if you could only choose one, it's the Switch to keep.
If someone is still looking to purchase digital goods, there's still a year to do it. I'm sure collectors will be sure to get their hands on anything they can. The sad part is once the servers go offline, there is no way to preserve that content. That however is a story for another day.