“As of late March 2023, it will no longer be possible to make purchases in Nintendo eShop for the Wii U system and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.”
That’s how an ominous post on the Nintendo support blog begins.
“It will also no longer be possible to download free content, including game demos,” the blog post continues.
“Furthermore, as this date draws closer, related services will cease to function.”
Those services specifically are the ability to add funds via credit card – which stops on May 23, 2022 – and the ability to add funds via Nintendo eShop gift cards, which will end on August 29, 2022.
“However, it will still be possible to redeem download codes until late March 2023.”
Which, you know, is better than nothing, but don’t try and sound like you’re doing us a favour by allowing us to download stuff we’ve already paid for, Nintendo. Once “late March 2023” comes around, however, you’ll no longer be able to purchase any games or DLC for the Wii U or Nintendo 3DS from the Nintendo eShop.
There is one crumb of comfort, that “even after late March 2023, and for the foreseeable future” players will still be able to “redownload games and DLC, receive software updates and enjoy online play,” but the foreseeable future is quite vague. Deliberately so, we’d wager.
Even after late March 2023, and for the foreseeable future, it will still be possible to redownload your games and DLC, receive software updates and enjoy online play on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS family systems.
— Nintendo UK (@NintendoUK) February 16, 2022
Any balance that users have in their Nintendo Network ID Wallet can be transferred by linking with the newer Nintendo Network account. And any balance added from gift cards bearing the 3DS or Wii U logo (which are still in the wild, even at retail) will be redeemable for Nintendo Switch purchases.
Still, it’s the end of an era, and it’s sad to see the brilliant 3DS finally put out to pasture. (No offence, Wii U.)
Given Nintendo’s track record with access to its historical catalogue? Expect to see a handful of 3DS games on the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription in a decade’s time.