Nintendo to End Online Services for 3DS and Wii U in 2024

Nintendo has announced that it will terminate the online services for its previous generation consoles, the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U, in early April 2024. This means that players will no longer be able to enjoy online multiplayer, leaderboards, data distribution, and other features that require online communication for these platforms.

The Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U were launched in 2011 and 2012 respectively, and have been succeeded by the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Both systems have a rich library of games, many of which have online components that enhance the gameplay experience. For example, players can race against each other in Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8, battle in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U, trade and battle Pokémon in various Pokémon titles, visit friends’ towns in Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival, and more.

Nintendo to End Online Services for 3DS and Wii U in 2024
Nintendo to End Online Services for 3DS and Wii U in 2024

However, as the Nintendo Switch has become the dominant platform for Nintendo, the online player base for the 3DS and Wii U has dwindled over time. According to a GameXplain test from the beginning of 2023, some games like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Mario Tennis Ultra Smash had no online opponents to be found, while others like Mario Kart 8 and Call of Duty games had only a handful of players. A similar test for the 3DS by a YouTuber in January showed mixed results, with some launch titles like Super Street Fighter 4 and Steel Divers still having surprisingly strong online communities.

Nintendo has already shut down the eShop functionality for the 3DS and Wii U in December 2023, making it impossible to purchase new digital games or DLC for these systems. The company has also stopped accepting repair requests for the 3DS in Japan earlier this year, and for the Wii U in North America in 2021. The announcement of the online service closure is the final nail in the coffin for these beloved consoles, marking the end of an era for Nintendo fans.

What to Do Before the Shutdown

Nintendo has stated that the online service closure will occur in early April 2024, but the exact date will be announced later. The company has also warned that the closure may happen earlier than planned if an event occurs that makes it difficult to continue the online services. Therefore, players who still own and play the 3DS and Wii U should make the most of the remaining time and enjoy the online features of their favorite games while they can.

Nintendo has also clarified that some features will remain available after the online service closure, such as:

  • Redownloading purchased software and downloading game update data
  • Transferring Pokémon from the 3DS using the Pokémon Bank system
  • Using the StreetPass and SpotPass features on the 3DS

However, these features are not guaranteed to last forever, and may be discontinued in the future as well.

Looking Ahead to the Future

While the online service closure for the 3DS and Wii U is a sad moment for many Nintendo fans, it is also a sign of progress for the company and the industry. Nintendo is reportedly ramping up its plans to release a Switch successor next year, which will likely offer more advanced hardware, software, and online capabilities. The Switch itself has also been a huge success for Nintendo, selling over 120 million units worldwide and hosting some of the best games of the generation.

For those who are not ready to let go of the 3DS and Wii U, there is still hope for preserving the online functionality of these systems. Some hackers and enthusiasts have been working on reverse-engineering the online servers and creating their own private servers for various games. One such project is Pretendo, an open source project that aims to replicate the online services for the 3DS and Wii U. However, these projects are not endorsed by Nintendo and may involve legal and technical risks.

The 3DS and Wii U have been incredible platforms that have brought joy and entertainment to millions of players around the world. They have also been home to some of the most innovative and memorable games in Nintendo’s history. As the online service closure approaches, let us celebrate and appreciate the legacy of these consoles, and look forward to the future of Nintendo gaming.

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