Nintendo has announced that it is discontinuing the eShop for its beloved Wii U and 3DS family of consoles next year. The decision is being made as a part of the natural lifecycle of the impacted products as they continue to see a dwindling user base.
The discontinuation is a gradual process in which you won't be able to add funds through a credit card to your eShop account on Wii U and 3DS after May 23, 2022. From August 29, 2022, it will no longer be possible to add funds through eShop cards either, although you will be able to redeem download codes before March 2023. Similarly, it will be possible to purchase content until March 2023, based on the funds you have accumulated in line with the aforementioned deadlines. Once this final deadline passes, any remaining funds can only be used to purchase content via the Nintendo Switch.
The aforementioned dates will also apply to associated storefronts on the impacted consoles such as StreetPass Mii Plaza, Theme Shop, and Nintendo Badge Arcade. That said, you will still be able to re-download any content and receive updates for it even after March 2023. It is important to note that other services such as online play are not affected.
The move does raise some eyebrows when it comes to game preservation, considering Nintendo constantly wages war against homebrew software and pirated content. This is even more important when it is becoming increasingly difficult to find supported and legal ways to play older games. Apparently, the company did address this in its FAQs, but has since deleted the section. You can find a screenshot of it in the tweet below:
After March 2023, Wii and 3DS eShop users will still be able to re-download content they own and receive software updates for it. 3DS gamers may also be able to download some free themes from the Theme Shop. However, users on both platforms won't be able to purchase any content, download demos and free-to-start software, redeem download codes, and add funds to their impacted account after the date.