The Nintendo 3DS and Wii U eShop is being discontinued permanently as of March 2023.
The news was announced late last night, via a tweet from the official Nintendo of America Twitter account. The change means you've got just over one year to make any digital purchases through the 3DS or Wii U versions of the eShop, before the storefront is discontinued and purchases will be forever disabled.
As of late March 2023, it will no longer be possible to make Nintendo eShop purchases for the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.More info: https://t.co/uGoxCcDZ70February 16, 2022
This means, after this date, the only games you'll be able to purchase for either the Nintendo 3DS or Wii U will be physical copies of games. You won't be able to simply hop onto your 3DS and purchase The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, for example, or any other games.
This announcement has understandably been met with criticism from Nintendo's players. While some are simply bemoaning the fact that their 3DS and Wii U consoles will now be destined to gather dust, others are concerned about what this means for game preservation going forward, and the fact that many of Nintendo's greatest titles will now be confined to physical copies.
Nintendo posted an FAQ about the change along with its announcement. In the original version of that document, the company posed the question "doesn't Nintendo have an obligation to preserve its classic games?", to which it answered that it allows players access to some of those games via the Nintendo Switch Online emulators of NES, SNES, and N64 games. It stated that beyond that "growing" list of around 150 titles, Nintendo currently has "no plans to offer classic content in other ways."
However, there's hope yet. Nintendo revealed that even after March 2023, you'll still be able to redownload previously-purchased games, as well as DLC and software updates, on both the 3DS and Wii U. Of course, Nintendo could decide to walk back this feature at any point, so it's easy to see why game preservationists are more than a little concerned at the news.
Check out our upcoming Switch games guide for a full look at all the future games for Nintendo's current console.