The gaming controversy of the week has undoubtedly been Nintendo announcing its commercial closure for the 3DS and Wii U’s eShops. Purchases are eighty-sixed in March 2023, after which point platform-owners will only have redownload access. There was some drama suggesting Nintendo was aware it would be controversial, but a new report claims the company has been eager to ditch the Wii U all the way back in 2014, only two years after the underperforming console’s launch.
The report comes from Nintendo Life, so we suggest you hop over there if you want more in-depth details beyond our paraphrasing. Nintendo Life spoke to an alleged Nintendo of America ex-employee, on the subject of the eShop shutdowns. According to this source, Nintendo makes decisions on its platforms’ health after only the first two years have passed. That would mean the Wii U was dead in the water for the better part of three years, assuming that’s true.
Related: Nintendo is Shutting Down 3DS and Wii U eShops and Was Weirdly Defensive About It
Not a great sign for game preservationists, huh? The source also stated Nintendo not dumping the Wii U earlier is related to a ten year legal requirement. If the Wii U wasn’t supported for a full ten years (which is coming up in November 2022), Nintendo would be vulnerable to class action liability. Look at what happened with Guitar Hero Live as an example.
I don’t think the takeaway here is that Nintendo is evil, because while this was supposedly happening behind the scenes software was still published (at a notably slow clip) even into the Switch’s early life. Some of the best games for the Wii U, such as Tokyo Mirage Sessions, didn’t launch until much later. Of course, many of the best games were immediately ported to the Switch, which does lend weight to this person’s claims.
But it is a stark reminder that companies aren’t your friends even though they make videogames you love. Wii U has its fans, and people who certainly still use it today. But those folks are significantly outnumbered by the losses Nintendo ate, including in repair costs according to this report. The Wii U was just a swing and a miss, and at least it got support longer than the Vita!