At some point today, March 27, 2023, Nintendo’s digital storefronts for the Wii U and 3DS will close.
This means it will be a lot tougher to find beloved classic games like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies or Pokémon X & Y.
Closing the Wii U and 3DS eShops is an unfortunate development and a huge setback for preserving video games. It will only make it much harder for people to play these games. While tracking down physical copies of many of these games is possible, prices are steadily rising. But some digital games never got a physical release. Smaller indie games or add-ons, which were never released physically, only exist as downloadable purchases.
The shutdown of the eShops emphasizes the fleeting nature of digital media and the difficulties associated with preserving video game history. Unlike movies or books, games require specialized hardware to play, and many games no longer exist in physical form.
Fans have expressed their disappointment since the closure was announced in February 2022. Nintendo defended the move, citing the “natural life cycle” of its products, as the 3DS and Wii U have long been replaced by the Switch.
Ahead of the Nintendo eShop closures, content creator Jirard Khalil, host of The Completionist YouTube channel, purchased all 866 Wii U games and 1,547 3DS games, attempting to preserve these soon-to-be-unavailable games.
The closure of the eShops raises questions about the future of video game preservation. As technology continues to evolve, older games become harder to play. There is an urgent need for a concerted effort to preserve video game history and ensure that classic titles are accessible to future generations.