“NCL Has Been Waiting For This Day Since 2014” – Former NOA Employee Talks Nintendo eShop Closes

Wii U Wario
Image: Nintendo Life

Nintendo recently reveal its schedule to close its digital storefront for both the 3DS and Wii U system lines. From March 2023, you will no longer be able to purchase any new digital software on the 3DS and Wii U eShops, including 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 obviously the functionality that will eventually be deleted.

You might be thinking “That’s the way things are” – “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 download our copy again Crimson Shroud when we were in our 90s, the relatively quick closure of digital stores after these eShops first popped up was a bitter pill to swallow if you were worried about the preservation of video games. .

Nintendo sees the first 2 years as an indicator of when 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 – plan to have this kind of controlled closure for years to come.

“Nintendo knows they have to support a product for a minimum of 10 years or they risk class action,” a former Nintendo of America employee told us. The source, who wished to remain anonymous, says that Nintendo has been keeping an eye on this closure for a long time, and that the 10-year deadline happens in November 2022, a decade since the Wii U. launched. “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 sees the first 2 years as an indicator of when to start packing it with a console. “

Nintendo’s failure to succinctly demonstrate the benefits and merits of the GamePad controller’s asymmetrical gameplay – or success in distinguishing the console from its predecessor in the eyes of the public. them, who were once a big part of the Wii’s popularity – led to lackluster sales from the get go. By 2014, it was clear that the concept was simply not catching on with mainstream audiences, and according to our sources, the company quickly turned around and changed its approach internally. .

“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. All were just busy filling the sales gap. until NX. [Switch’s code name] will arrive. Same thing with mini consoles…panic products meant 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 that interacted with those apps on the Wii U. All were just busy working to fill a sales gap. .. 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) causing company-wide headaches and supply problems that occurred earlier in the console’s life, especially when it regarding the repair of parts.

“We started discussing the number of Wii U repairs and replacements about a year before the Switch launch,” our source detailed. “NOA is almost out of optical drives for repair/replacement program… and I mean like 2016, you might consider how much is left. Launched the switch. So EOL [End-Of-Life] at least programming for the console started before the launch of NX. “

This decommissioning plan comes just a few years after the ‘Wii U upgrade program’ was implemented internally, encouraging Wii owners to upgrade to the new console with a discount while NOA re-launches it. older control panel.

“In 2013, we were still dealing with Wii repairs and Nintendo was eating like 7-10 dollars per repair. There was an employee meeting in the spring of 2014 and they were looking for ideas from inside for savings or sale ideas… It was around that time that I started hearing insider jokes about “what are we going to upgrade them to when these Wii U’s ship out?” come for repair”.

New 3DS Theme
Image: Nintendo Life

When asked about the entire End-of-Life process and how long the ability to reload previous purchases could last for the 3DS and Wii U, our sources were less optimistic about the length of time. that time compared to Nintendo’s official line of the “near future”; they predict total service outages 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, reload the purchased content, and everything else will disappear completely. “People will lose 100% of their games if something happens to their Wii U or the drive they got their games on.”

People will lose 100% of their games if something happens to their Wii U or the drive they have their games on.

The Wii hasn’t been Nintendo’s current console in a decade, so it’s less of a surprise that Nintendo will soon shut down servers to reload that system. However, the Wii U was Nintendo’s main home platform until the Switch launched nearly five 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 is really serious.

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 Wii U & Nintendo 3DS eShop discontinuation support pagewhich – as we’ve mentioned before – claims 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 changes at this time”.

Our former NOA source said: “The discussions I’ve heard were to remove the NNID latch on the system and just use the Nintendo Account system.” In fact, it looks like the Nintendo Network ID system has been dropped for the Switch in favor of the new Nintendo Account system – but “intentionally tied into the current system so they can at least merge wallets/ pay and get people into the Switch ecosystem earlier” – could be another cause for the company’s inactivity in decommissioning previous generation console facades and networks.

“They may change their mind about how and if they allow your purchased titles to be accessed, but that system is such a mess to tie up with a Nintendo Account, they can can choose a service solution with several types of credit” make the customer happy ” Switch.”

Wii U EShop
Image: Nintendo Life

When you look at the relatively long lifespan of the Wii Shop – still accessible in 2022 to download purchased titles – we assume this is simply due to the large install base for the original Wii. , which our sources confirm. “The Wii Shop is a fairly closed 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 a pipe dream to imagine Nintendo shutting down all of its legacy networks entirely – the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS – with a network is down. The company as well as anyone knows how bad that news will go to die-hard fans; from a PR perspective, it’s better to address it all at once than to make multiple targets for negative press and general gamer grievances.

Ah, who caresyou can cry – who is playing 3DS or Wii U online now? Well, there are probably more people than you think. While Nintendo Life video producer Jon Cartwright investigates online activity for both systems – Wii U in December 20203DS in January 2021 – and found a surprisingly active player base for several online games. Yes, these tests are done 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 these services works for as long as possible.

It’s not far-fetched to imagine Nintendo shutting down all of its legacy networks entirely – the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS – with one network crashing. The company as well as anyone knows how that news is going to go downhill with its raving 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 that are only actively used by one small players – will see writing on the wall here. It’s not very comfortable for enthusiasts like us, or conservationists, or young players in the next 5 or 10 years time who might want to explore this library of systems just to find them. cannot be accessed.

Many of the larger 3DS and Wii U eShop games have had physical releases, but not all – not for long. The price of a used 3DS has skyrocketed in recent years, with prices on auction sites reaching sky-high levels, which is somewhat surprising for a system with lifetime sales. nearly 76 million units. However, if you want a nice clean one, you might have to pay hundreds. In contrast, there are less than 14 million Wii Us in the wild, and this number is much smaller for copies of Affordable space adventures about them. Minus that number the hard drive failures, crashes and data loss that the system will inevitably encounter in the future and… well, you can see why people are so engrossed in 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 while you can. It’s easy to get up in arms and tunes – and we like to encourage level heads and calm conversation – but the clock is ticking completely.

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