“NCL has been waiting for this day since 2014” – former NOA employee talks about closing Nintendo eShop

Photo: Nintendo Live

Nintendo recently reveal its schedule to close its digital storefronts for both the 3DS and Wii U family of systems. As of March 2023, you will not be able to make new purchases of digital software of any kind on 3DS and Wii U eShops, which include digital versions of physical editions, digital download games Only and all forms of DLC. You are will Being able to re-download purchases made prior to that date (as much as you can still download original Wii titles previously purchased on this console) “for the foreseeable future”, but this functionality will obviously be removed eventually.

You might think “that’s the way things are” – “it’s never going to last forever.” And while most of us can sit back and justify it, yes, Of course Digital Services have a limited lifetime, and no, clearly We didn’t expect to be able to re-download our copy of crimson shroud When we’re in our 90s seeing digital store closings coming relatively quickly after these online stores debuted is a bitter pill to swallow if you’re at all worried about maintaining video games.

Nintendo is looking at the first two years as an indication of when they started packing a console

The truth is that Nintendo – and all the companies that run similar stores selling digital goods – are planning such a tight shutdown for many years to come.

A former Nintendo of America employee told us, “Nintendo knows it has to support a product for at least 10 years or it risks some mass action.” The source, who wishes to remain anonymous, says Nintendo has been eyeing this shutdown for a long time now, and this 10-year hiatus comes in November 2022, a decade after the Wii U was launched.” Internally, NCL [Nintendo Co. Ltd, the main Japanese company of which NOA is a subsidiary] He’s been waiting for that day since 2014 based on sales…Nintendo is looking at the first two years as an indication of when they started packing the console. “

The failure on the part of Nintendo to demonstrate the advantages and value of the GamePad’s asymmetric gameplay – or to successfully differentiate the console from its predecessor in the eyes of the broader audience that was a key part of the Wii’s popularity – led to lackluster sales from the start. By 2014, it was clear that the concept simply didn’t strike a chord with the mainstream audience, and according to our source, the company was quick to pivot and change course internally.

“While working on the NX, I saw a test with amiibo and a bunch of weird apps that interacted with those on the Wii U. And all of them were just working to fill the sales void until the NX [Switch’s code name] will arrive. Same with micro consoles…Panic products are meant to bridge the NX gap for Christmas. “

While working on the NX I watched a test with amiibo and a bunch of weird apps that interacted with those on the Wii U. They all just work to fill the sales void… Same thing with micro consoles

The Wii U’s relative commercial failure (13.56 million units is not no thingbut out of its console lineup that Virtual Boy only sold fewer units) it caused headaches across the company and supply issues surfaced earlier in the console’s lifecycle, particularly when it came to parts repair.

“We started talking about Wii U repair and replacement numbers about a year before the Switch launched,” our detail source said. “NOA was about to run out of optical drives for the repair/replacement program…and I mean like in 2016, you could figure out how many were left. NCL had a good supply, so they moved that stock over to NOA so we could handle the repairs at least until Switch has been launched, so the EOL [End-Of-Life] The program was started at least for the console prior to the launch of the NX.”

This shutdown plan came just two years after the “Wii U Upgrade Program” was introduced internally, encouraging Wii owners to upgrade to the new console at a discount while NOA recycled the old console.

“In 2013 we were still dealing with Wii repairs and Nintendo ate $7-10 per repair. There was an employee who met Spring 2014 and they were looking for insider ideas either for savings or sales ideas… That was around the time I started hearing jokes The interior is about “What do we upgrade when these Wii U devices are sent in for repair.”

New 3D Themes
Photo: Nintendo Live

When asked about the full end-of-life process and how long the ability to re-download previous purchases will stay in place for the 3DS and Wii U, our source was less optimistic about this date range than the official Nintendo line for “the foreseeable future”; They expect a complete shutdown of services in just two years. “They will provide a notice in 2023 that the server will be shut down after a while.” After this time, the suggestion is that playing online, re-downloading purchased content, and everything else will completely disappear. “People will 100% lose their games if something happens to the Wii U or the engine they’re playing their games on.”

People will 100% lose their games if something happens to the Wii U or the drive they are playing their games on

The Wii hasn’t been Nintendo’s current console for a decade, so it would come as no surprise that Nintendo is shutting down servers for redownloads for that system soon. However, the Wii U was Nintendo’s main flagship platform until the launch of the Switch nearly five years ago in March 2017, so the idea of ​​having access to re-downloading your digital library and playing online could be removed as early as 2023/24 is a realistic one. Already.

We’ve reached out to Nintendo to comment on our source’s allegations and the company’s plans for networks beyond March 2023. We’ve been directed to the company Wii U and Nintendo 3DS eShop discontinued support pagewhich – as mentioned earlier – states that online play, software updates and the ability to re-download previously purchased content will remain in place after late March 2023 “for the foreseeable future”:

For the foreseeable future, it will still be possible to re-download games and downloadable content, receive software updates and enjoy online gaming on the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.

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

“The discussions I heard were about turning off NNID on the system and only using the Nintendo account system,” says our former NOA source. In fact, it appears that the Nintendo Network ID system that was scrapped in favor of the Switch in favor of the new Nintendo account system – but was “intentionally installed in the existing system so that they could at least integrate wallets/payments and get people into the Switch ecosystem earlier” – might Another reason for the company’s vitality is to finish the storefronts and networks of the last generation console.

“They might change their mind about how and whether to allow access to your purchased nicknames, but this system was such a mess to link them to Nintendo accounts, they might opt ​​for a service solution with some kind of ‘customer happy’ credit in exchange for a switch.”

Wii U EShop
Photo: Nintendo Live

When you look at the Wii Store’s relatively long life – which can still be accessed in 2022 to re-download purchased titles – we assumed this was simply due to the original Wii’s massive install base, which our source confirmed. “The Wii Shop was very much a contained store environment and yes, the install base is still huge.”

Of course, those Wii purchases won’t be available for redownload forever, and it’s not unrealistic to imagine Nintendo completely shutting down all of its old networks — the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS — in one fell swoop. The company knows just as much as anyone how to pass on this news with die-hard fans; From a PR perspective, it’s better to get it all out of the way at once rather than presenting multiple targets for negative press and general player discontent.

Ah, who caresYou may cry – Who’s Playing 3DS or Wii U Online Right Now Anyway? Well, there are probably more people than you think. Nintendo Life video producer John Cartwright has investigated online activity for both platforms – Wii U in December 20203DS in . format January 2021 – and found a surprisingly active player base for a number of online games. These tests have been conducted while most of the world has been staying at home more than might be due to pandemic reasons, but it is clear that there is still demand from players, however small, for these services to remain active for as long as possible.

It’s not unrealistic to imagine Nintendo completely shutting down all of its old networks — the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS — in one fell swoop. The company knows just as much as anyone how to pass this news on to their hardcore fans

Ultimately, anyone who stops and considers the financial realities of maintaining servers and allocating resources to networks built for previous consoles — services that are only actively used by a small portion of gamers — will see the writing on the wall here. Enthusiasts like us, conservationists, or young gamers in 5 or 10 years’ time, who might want to explore the libraries of these systems only to find that they are inaccessible, are uncomfortable.

Many 3DS games and the larger Wii U eShop have gotten physical releases, but not all – not by a long shot. The price of a used 3DS has skyrocketed in recent years, with prices on auction sites hitting staggering levels, somewhat surprising for a system with lifetime sales of nearly 76 million units. If you want a nice, clean one, you can expect to pay hundreds. Conversely, there are less than 14 million Wii Us devices in the wild, and far fewer with copies of Affordable Space Adventures on them. subtract from who – which Number the cases of hard drive corruptions, failures, and data loss that these systems will inevitably face in the future and… well, you can see why people are passionate about this topic.

Our advice? We definitely recommend backing up your hard drives if you have them, and tidying up your personal 3DS/Wii U affairs as much as possible. It’s easy waking up in the arms and melodramatic—and we’re eager to encourage flat heads and quiet conversations—but the clock is ticking just right.

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