Only a few hours remain for anyone who wants to buy games from the eShops for Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS.
As it promised more than a year ago, Nintendo is shutting down those digital storefronts tonight at 8 pm Eastern, after previously halting the ability to add eShop funds in May 2022. After today, you can still download or re-download any titles you’ve previously bought from those shops, though that can obviously change in the future. Closing the eShops means that roughly 1,000 digital-only games will no longer be accessible, according to research by VGC, including 335 Virtual Console games that aren’t available through the Nintendo Switch Online service.
These kinds of sweeping moves, while perhaps understandable from a business perspective, pose a serious danger to the preservation of many games in the systems’ libraries. As Ars detailed earlier this month, video game preservationists are hamstrung by laws and regulations around remote access to DRM-protected work, even if it’s kept by research-driven organizations. Nintendo is one of many organizations that, through the Entertainment Software Association, lobbies to prevent libraries from offering legal access to archived games.
Today’s shutdown also marks the end of Nintendo’s Virtual Console, which allowed for the purchase of individual games from Nintendo’s catalog without a subscription. The Console was killed on the original Wii in 2019, and Nintendo does not intend to offer it on the Switch, noting in an FAQ about the eShop shutdown that it currently has “no plans to offer classic content in other ways” (since removed, but archived here). It has, however, offered a website on which you can “Bring back your gaming memories” of 3DS and Wii U titles you’ve purchased and played.
If you’re wondering what it would take to buy every game on the eShop, somebody already did that. The Completionist, aka Jirard Khalil, downloaded 1.2TB of Wii U and 267GB of 3DS games, taking 328 days and costing $22,791. “Since the industry started, we run a daily risk of losing games forever,” Khalil tells viewers in the video. “That’s why this matters.” Khalil is donating the consoles and storage containing all the games to the Video Game History Foundation and will host a Preserved Play fundraiser for the foundation April 15-16 on his Twitch channel.