Nintendo closing the Wii U and 3DS eShops makes classic NES titles subscription-only

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo has announced it will be closing the Wii U and 3DS eShops in March next year. While you’ll still be able to download games and DLC you’ve already purchased from the digital storefronts, it will no longer be possible to buy new titles, download demos, redeem download codes, or add funds.

In a blog post on the publisher's website, Nintendo says the discontinuation of the eShops is simply part of the consoles’ “natural lifecycle”, although there are no immediate plans to shut down their online play features.

If you've already added digital funds to the storefronts, you'll be able to transfer any leftover balance to the Nintendo Switch eShop after they close next year. On top of that, any remaining eShop Cards sold by retailers that show the Wii U or 3DS logo can be used to add funds to your Nintendo Account for use on the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo hasn’t stipulated exactly for how long the eShops will remain supported, only suggesting that players will be able to re-download their games, DLC, and receive software updates for their existing purchases for “the foreseeable future”. 

It's also launched a new 3DS and Wii U Memories webpage that reveals several of your playtime stats for the consoles.

Analysis: the NES era is now subscription-only

Mario riding Yoshi

(Image credit: Nintendo)

With the Nintendo 3DS now 11 years old, and the Wii U due to celebrate its 10th anniversary later this year, the closure of their eShops shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Running, maintaining, and updating a digital storefront is costly, so Nintendo will be looking to shave expenses from the aging consoles. Sony attempted to make, but later reversed, a similar decision with the PlayStation Store for PS3 and Vita last year.

More aggravating, however, is that the discontinuation of the eShops will effectively prevent players from purchasing and owning many classic Nintendo titles. While the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service gives you access to a library of gems from the NES and SNES era, the Wii U and 3DS eShops include a bigger selection of classic titles, and let you purchase the games outright, rather than having to pay a monthly fee.

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As spotted by Kotaku, Nintendo’s original announcement was accompanied by a Q&A section explaining the decision to remove older titles from purchase. That section was taken down, but reportedly read:  “Will you make classic games available to own some other way? If not, then why? Doesn’t Nintendo have an obligation to preserve its classic games by continually making them available for purchase?”

In response, Nintendo said, “Across our Nintendo Switch Online membership plans, over 130 classic games are currently available in growing libraries for various legacy systems. The games are often enhanced with new features such as online play.

“We think this is an effective way to make classic content easily available to a broad range of players. Within these libraries, new and longtime players can not only find games they remember or have heard about, but other fun games they might not have thought to seek out otherwise.

“We currently have no plans to offer classic content in other ways.”

Callum Bains
Gaming News Writer

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games.