“NCL has been waiting for this day since 2014” – Former NOA employee on Nintendo eShop closure

War Wii U
Photo: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life

During the holidays, we are republishing some selection feature from the past 12 months. Compilation of arguments, interviews, opinions and more from NL staff and collaborators, you’ll find our usual blend of thoughtfulness, expertise, vanity, classic nostalgia, and — of course — enthusiasm for all things Nintendo. Happy holidays!

Nintendo recently revealed its schedule to close its digital stores for both the 3DS and Wii U line of systems. From March 2023, you won’t be able to buy any new digital software on the 3DS and Wii U eShops, including includes digital versions of physical releases, digital-only downloadable games, and all forms of DLC. You will may re-download purchases made before that date (as much as you can still download previously purchased original Wii titles on that console) “in the near future”, but apparently that feature will eventually be removed.

‘That’s the way things are’, you might think – ‘it will never last forever’. And while most of us can sit and rationalize that, yes, Of course digital services have a finite lifespan and do not, sure We don’t expect to be able to re-download our copy Crimson shroud as we’re in our 90s, seeing digital store closures happen relatively quickly after these eShops first appear is a bitter pill to swallow if you’re worried about video game preservation.

Nintendo sees the first 2 years as a sign that it’s time to start packing it with a console

The reality, however, is that Nintendo – and all the companies that run analog stores that sell digital stuff – have been planning for a controlled closure of this kind for years to come.

“Nintendo knows they have to support a product for a minimum of 10 years, or they risk some class action lawsuit,” a former Nintendo of America employee told us. The unnamed source said that Nintendo has been eyeing this closure for a long time, and that the 10-year deadline will arrive in November 2022, a decade since the launch of the Wii U. “Internally, NCL [Nintendo Co. Ltd, the main Japanese company of which NOA is a subsidiary] been waiting for that date since 2014 based on sales… Nintendo took the first 2 years as a sign of when to start packing it with a console.”

Nintendo has failed to succinctly demonstrate the benefits and merits of the GamePad controller’s asymmetrical gameplay — or to successfully differentiate this console from its predecessor in the public eye. more widely, who were a key part of the Wii’s popularity — leading to lackluster sales from the get-go. By 2014, it was clear that the concept was simply not popular with the general audience, and according to our sources, the company quickly pivoted and changed its internal tactics.

“While NX was being worked on, you saw an experiment with amiibo and a bunch of weird apps interacting with those apps on the Wii U. It was all just busy work to fill the void. sales until release [Switch’s code name] will come. The same goes for mini-game consoles… panic products to fill the NX gap for Christmas.”

While the NX was being worked on, you saw an experiment with amiibo and a bunch of weird apps interacting with those apps on the Wii U. It was all just busy work to fill a sales gap. row… Same thing with mini console

Wii U’s Relative Commercial Failure (13.56 million units no nothingbut from its console line, only the Virtual Boy sold fewer units) caused company-wide headaches and supply problems that had occurred earlier in the console’s life, especially especially when it comes to parts repair.

“We started discussing Wii U repair and replacement numbers about a year before the Switch launch,” our source detailed. “NOA is almost out of optical drives for a repair/replacement program… and I mean, like in 2016, you can see how many optical drives are left. NCL has a good supply, so they moved that inventory to NOA so we could process the repair at least until the switch was launched. So EOL [End-Of-Life] at least programming for the console started prior to the launch of NX.”

This decommissioning plan comes only a few years after the ‘Wii U upgrade program’ was implemented internally, encouraging Wii owners to upgrade to a new console at a discount while NOA recycles. older control panel.

“In 2013, we were still dealing with Wii repairs, and Nintendo made about $7-10 per repair. There was an employee meeting in the spring of 2014 and they were looking for ideas from inside for savings or sales ideas… That’s about the time I started hearing inside jokes about ‘what do we upgrade them to when these Wii U’s are sent in for repair? cure’.”

New 3DS theme
Photo: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life

When asked about the entire End of Life process and how long the ability to re-download previous purchases might last for the 3DS and Wii U, our sources were less optimistic about the timeframe. that time compared to the official Nintendo line is the “near future”; they predict to completely shut down services within just a few years. “They will make an announcement in 2023 that the server will be down after a while.” After this time, the suggestion is to play online, re-download the purchased content, and everything else will be gone completely. “People will 100% lose their game if something happens to their Wii U or the drive they turn the game on.”

People will 100% lose their game if something happens to their Wii U or the drive they turn the game on.

The Wii hasn’t been Nintendo’s current console for a decade, so it would be less of a surprise if Nintendo shut down servers soon to re-download that system. However, the Wii U was Nintendo’s main home platform until the Switch came out almost 5 years ago in March 2017, so the idea that access to re-download your digital library and online play could be removed as early as 2023/24 really seriously.

We’ve reached out to Nintendo for comment on statements from our source and the company’s post-March 2023 plans for the networks. We were directed to the company Support page Stop Wii U & Nintendo 3DS eShopwhich — as we’ve mentioned before — states that online play, software updates, and the ability to re-download previously purchased content will remain after the end of March 2023″ for the foreseeable future. “:

For the foreseeable future, it will still be possible to re-download games and DLC, receive software updates, and play online on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS line of systems.

With specific reference to online play, the page also states that “There are no plans to make any further changes at this time”.

Our former NOA source said, “I’ve heard discussions about discontinuing the NNID screwing system and just using the Nintendo Account system.” In fact, it looks like the Nintendo Network ID system has been dropped for the Switch in favor of a new Nintendo Account system (but “intentionally attached to the current system so they could at least merge wallets.” /checkout and get people into the Switch ecosystem sooner”) could be another reason the company quickly shut down the networks and storefronts of the previous-generation console.

“They may change their mind about how and if they will allow access to your purchased titles, but that system is too cumbersome to link to a Nintendo Account, they can choose a service solution with some sort of “customer satisfaction” credit to the Switch.”

Wii U . Store
Photo: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life

When you look at the relatively long lifespan of the Wii Shop—still accessible in 2022 for re-downloading purchased titles—we assume this is simply due to the large install base for the Wii. origin, our source confirmed. “The Wii Shop is a pretty self-contained store environment and yes, the installation base is still huge.”

Of course, those Wii purchases won’t be available for re-download forever, and it’s not unrealistic to imagine Nintendo shutting down all of its older networks altogether – the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS – with just one slip. The company as well as anyone knows how that news will go downhill for die-hard fans; from a PR perspective, it’s better to tackle it all at once than to make multiple targets for negative press and general gamer discontent.

Ah, who cares?you can cry — who is playing 3DS or Wii U online now? Well, there are probably more people than you think. Previously, Nintendo Life video producer Jon Cartwright investigated online activity for both platforms — Wii U in December 20203DS in January 2021 — and found a surprisingly active player base for several online games. It is true that these tests have been conducted while much of the world is at home more than for reasons related to the pandemic, but there is clearly still a need for players, however small, to have services This works for as long as possible.

It’s not unrealistic to imagine Nintendo shutting down all of its older networks entirely – the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS – with one fell swoop. The company as well as anyone knows how bad that news will go to die hard fans

Finally, anyone who stops and considers the financial realities of maintaining servers and dedicating resources to networks built for consoles in the past—services only actively used by one small portion of players — will see writing on the wall here. It’s a bit of a comfort for enthusiasts like us, or conservators or young players that in 5 or 10 years might want to explore the libraries of these systems just to see them. accessible.

Many of the larger 3DS and Wii U eShop games have physical releases, but not all — not for long. The price of a secondhand 3DS has skyrocketed in recent years, with prices on auction sites reaching astonishing levels, which is a bit surprising for a system with a lifetime sales of nearly $76 million. pcs. However, if you want a nice clean one, you can expect to pay hundreds. In contrast, there are less than 14 million Wii Us in the wild and a much smaller number with copies of Affordable space adventure about them. minus that imagine the hard drive failure, failure and data loss that those systems will inevitably experience in the future and… you can see why people are so passionate about the subject.

Our advice? We definitely recommend backing up your hard drives if you have them and getting your personal 3DS/Wii U jobs in order when you can. It’s easy to get up and flaunt — and we want to encourage heads to calm down and chat calmly — but the clock is ticking.

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