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Nintendo 3DS and Wii U's eShop cards lose functionality after today

After today, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U owners won't be able to use prepaid cards to add funds to their Nintendo eShop accounts.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

August 29, 2022

2 Min Read
Promo pic Nintendo's Wii U games console, taken from the UK version of Nintendo's website.

For those who still have a Nintendo 3DS or Wii U, today marks the final day of being able to use prepaid cards to add funds to their eShop accounts. The change was previously announced in February of this year, and is another part of the publisher's plan to sunset the storefronts for its two systems. 

"As of late March 2023, it will no longer be possible to make purchases in Nintendo eShop for the Wii U system and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. It will also no longer be possible to download free content, including game demos," wrote Nintendo in its initial announcement. 

At the time, Nintendo called this move "part of the natural console lifecycle." By the time eShop support ends next year, the 3DS will be 12 years old, and the Wii U will be nearly a decade old. The Wii U was discontinued in 2017 shortly before the release of the Nintendo Switch, and the 3DS was discontinued in 2020.

Both the 3DS and Wii U have gradually lost marketplace support from Nintendo throughout 2022 as Nintendo phases out the hardware. Beginning in May, users could no longer use a credit card to add funds to their accounts for either platforms. 

The eShop for both systems will officially go offline on March 27, 2023, and players will be able to redeem download codes until then. Should there be any remaining balance following the March shutdown, the balance can only be used on Nintendo Switch titles. 

The 3DS and Wii U eShop ending means another hit to game preservation

When the news broke, Nintendo's decision had its fair share of controversy when a now deleted question related to game preservation appeared in a Q&A section on its website. Nintendo declared its subscription service, Nintendo Switch Online, as will serve as the only avenue through which games across the company's history would be preserved. There are "no plans" to preserve older games through other means.  

"Across our Nintendo Switch Online membership plans, over 130 classic games are currently available in growing libraries for various legacy systems," said Nintendo. "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."

Even with the eShop shutdown next year, Nintendo stated that Wii U and 3DS players will be able to redownload games and DLC. Online play on either system, along with the ability to receive software updates, shall continue to function for "the foreseeable future." 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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