Best of 2022: “NCL has been waiting for this day since 2014” – Former NOA employee talks about Nintendo eShop Closures
During the holidays we re-post a few select features from the last 12 months. A mix of talking points, interviews, opinion pieces and more NL employees and shareholdersYou’ll find our usual mix of thoughtfulness, expertise, frivolity, nostalgia, and of course, enthusiasm for all things Nintendo. happy vacation!
Nintendo recently revealed its schedule for closing its digital storefronts for both the 3DS and Wii U family of systems. Starting in March 2023, you will no longer be able to make new purchases of digital software of any kind on the 3DS and Wii U eShops, which includes digital versions of Physical releases, digital download-only games and all forms of DLC. You are will being able to re-download purchases made prior to that date (insofar as you can still download original Wii titles previously purchased on this console) “for the foreseeable future”, but apparently that functionality will eventually be removed.
You might think “that’s the way things are” – “it never lasts forever”. And while most of us can sit back and justify it, yeah, Definitely Digital services have a limited lifespan, nor, clearly We didn’t expect to be able to re-download our copy of Crimson Shroud when we’re in the ’90s, and seeing digital stores close relatively quickly after eShops debuted is a bitter pill to swallow if you’re worried at all about preserving video games.
Nintendo looks at the first two years as an indication of when they started packaging it with a console
The truth is, Nintendo – and all companies that run similar stores selling digital goods – plan to close a tightrope of this kind for many years to come.
“Nintendo knows they have to support a product for at least 10 years or they risk some class action,” a former Nintendo of America employee told us. The source, who wishes to remain anonymous, says Nintendo has been eyeing this shutdown for a long time now, and that this 10-year hiatus comes in November 2022, a decade after the launch of the Wii U.” Internally, NCL [Nintendo Co. Ltd, the main Japanese company of which NOA is a subsidiary] Been waiting for that day since 2014 based on sales… Nintendo looks at the first two years as an indication of when they started packing it in with the console. “
The failure on Nintendo’s part to demonstrate the merits and value of the GamePad console’s uneven gameplay—or to successfully differentiate the console from its predecessor in the eyes of the broader public that was a key part of the Wii’s popularity—led to lackluster sales from the start. By 2014, it was clear that the concept simply didn’t strike a chord with a mainstream audience, and according to our source, the company was quick to pivot and change course internally.
While working on the NX, I watched testing with amiibo and a bunch of weird apps that interacted with those on the Wii U. All of which only served to fill the sales void up to the NX [Switch’s code name] will arrive. Same with the mini consoles… Panic Products aims to fill the NX gap for Christmas. “
While working on the NX I watched testing with amiibo and a bunch of weird apps that interacted with the ones on the Wii U. It’s all just busy work to fill the sales void…same with the mini consoles
The relative commercial failure of the Wii U (13.56 million units) is not no thingbut of its console lineup only the Virtual Boy sold fewer units) caused headaches throughout the company and supply issues surfaced early in the console’s life cycle, particularly when it came to repair parts.
“We started talking about Wii U repair and replacement numbers about a year before the Switch launched,” our source details. “NOA was about to run out of optical drives for the repair/replacement program…and I mean like 2016, you could tell how many were left. NCL had a good supply, so they moved that stock over to NOA so we could handle the repairs at least until Switch fired, so EOL [End-Of-Life] At least the software for the console started before the launch of the NX.
This shutdown plan came just two years after an internal “Wii U Upgrade Program” was introduced, encouraging Wii owners to upgrade to the new console at a discount while NOA recycled the old console.
“In 2013 we were still dealing with Wii repairs and Nintendo ate about $7-10 per repair. There was an employee meeting Spring 2014 and they were looking for insider ideas for either savings or sales ideas… That was around the time I started In it we hear inside jokes about “what are we upgrading to when these Wii U’s are sent in for repair”.
When asked about the full end-of-life process and how long the ability to re-download previous purchases will remain in place for the 3DS and Wii U, our source was less optimistic about that date range than Nintendo’s official line for the “foreseeable future”; They predict a complete shutdown of services in just two years. “They will give notice in 2023 that the server will be shut down after a while.” After this time, the suggestion is that playing online, re-downloading purchased content, and everything else will disappear completely. “People will 100% lose their games if something happens to the Wii U or the engine they’re playing their games on.”
People will 100% lose their games if something happens to their Wii U or the drive they play their games on.
The Wii hasn’t been Nintendo’s current console in a decade, so it would be unsurprising if Nintendo shut down the servers for redownloads for this system so soon. However, the Wii U was Nintendo’s main mainstream platform until the Switch’s launch nearly five years ago in March 2017, so the idea that access to re-downloading your digital library and playing online could be removed as early as 2023/24 is realistic. Already.
We’ve reached out to Nintendo for comment on our source’s claims and the company’s plans for post-March 2023 for the networks. We were directed to the company’s Wii U and Nintendo 3DS eShop discontinuation support page, which – as mentioned earlier – states that online play, software updates, and the ability to re-download previously purchased content will remain after late March 2023 “for the foreseeable future”:
For the foreseeable future, it will still be possible to re-download games and downloadable content, receive software updates and enjoy online play on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS family of systems.
With specific reference to online play, the page also states that “there are no plans to make any further changes at this time.”
“The discussions I heard were about turning off the installed NNID system and just using the Nintendo account system,” says our former NOA source. In fact, the Nintendo Network ID system being scrapped for the Switch in favor of the new Nintendo Account system (but “it was intentionally pinned into the existing system so they could at least integrate wallets/payments and get people into the Switch ecosystem ‘previously’) seems to be another reason For the company’s vitality in finishing storefronts and networking for the last generation console.
“They might change their mind about how and if to allow access to your purchased titles, but this system was such a mess to connect with Nintendo accounts, they might choose a service solution with a ‘make customer happy’ type of credit in exchange for a transfer.”
When you look at the relatively long lifespan of the Wii Store — which can still be accessed in 2022 for re-downloading of purchased titles — we assumed this was simply due to the original Wii’s huge install base, which our source confirmed. “The Wii Shop was very much a contained store environment and yes, the install base is still huge.”
Of course, these Wii purchases won’t be available for re-download forever, and it’s not unrealistic to imagine Nintendo completely shutting down all of its legacy networks — Wii, Wii U, and 3DS — in one fell swoop. The company knows as well as anyone how it’s going to deliver this news with hardcore fans; From a PR perspective, it’s better to get it all out of the way at once than to present multiple targets for negative press and general player discontent.
Ah, who caresYou may cry – Who plays 3DS or Wii U online now anyway? Well, there are probably more people than you think. Nintendo Life video producer John Cartwright investigated online activity for both systems — Wii U in December 2020, 3DS in January 2021 — and found a surprisingly active player base for a number of online games. These tests were conducted while most of the world was staying at home more than might be for reasons related to the pandemic, but there is clearly still a demand from players, however small, for these services to remain active for as long as possible.
It’s not unrealistic to imagine Nintendo completely shutting down all of its legacy networks – Wii, Wii U and 3DS – in one fell swoop. The company knows as well as anyone how it’s going to communicate this news with hardcore fans
Ultimately, anyone who stops and looks at the financial realities of maintaining servers and allocating resources to networks built for previous consoles — services that are only actively used by a fraction of gamers — will see the writing on the wall here. It’s of little comfort to enthusiasts like us, conservationists, or gamers young in 5 or 10 years who might want to explore the libraries of these systems only to find them inaccessible.
Many of the larger 3DS and Wii U eShop games have gotten physical releases, but not all — not by a long shot. The price of a used 3DS has skyrocketed in recent years, with prices on auction sites reaching staggering levels, which is somewhat surprising for a system with lifetime sales of nearly 76 million units. If you want a nice clean one, you can expect to pay hundreds. Conversely, there are fewer than 14 million Wii Us out there in the wild, and a much smaller number with copies of Affordable Space Adventures on them. subtract from that Learn about hard drive corruptions, failures, and data loss that these systems will inevitably encounter in the future and… well, you can see why people are so passionate about this topic.
Our advice? We definitely recommend backing up your hard drives if you’ve got them, and getting your personal 3DS/Wii U affairs in order as much as possible. It’s easy to get up in the arms and melodramatic — and we’re keen to encourage level heads and quiet conversation — but the clock is just ticking.
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