eShop Arcade Bunny helps you buy games, yay
Image: Nintendo Life

This is your final reminder that if you want to play your 3DS or Wii U online, you've only got until Monday when the online servers are taken offline for good. There's still time to enjoy some online play with the original Splatoon, then — just not long. Enjoy it while you can!

That's all, folks — online play for 3DS and Wii U has left the building. Goodnight, sweet princes!

Nintendo closed down the Wii U and 3DS eShops on Monday 27th March, 2023, meaning that you are no longer able to buy digital games on either platform. Online play for these consoles was shut down on Monday 8th April 2024.

Credit card payment support on these eShops ended earlier, on 23rd May 2022, and Nintendo eShop cards ceased to be redeemable from 29th August 2022.

Here's all the information you need in one handy 3DS/Wii U online shutdown guide.

3DS and Wii U eShop/Online Shutdown Guide - When, How, WHY?!?!

Wii U / New Nintendo 3DS
Image: Nintendo Life

When does online play end for 3DS and Wii U?

Online play for 3DS and Wii U no longer functions after 8th April 2024. Online features and functionality in any game that has them doesn't work anymore.

This means that online play and any other functionality that uses online communication ended for 3DS and Wii U software. This includes PvP versus matches, co-op play, leaderboard rankings, and data distribution.

More specifically, you can't play online races in Mario Kart 7 or visit friends' towns in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Stuff like that.

Which 3DS and Wii U models does this apply to?

All of them.

So that includes New Nintendo 3DS, New Nintendo 3DS XL, New Nintendo 2DS XL, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL, Nintendo 2DS, Wii U Deluxe, and Wii U Basic.

Which 3DS and Wii U games are affected?

Well, lots. But if you want a quick gander at some of the most popular online titles on each system, then here's a quick breakdown:

Mario Kart 8
Image: Nintendo

Can I still play 3DS and Wii U games offline?

Yes, although any modes that require online connections or communication of any sort don't work anymore.

So, you are able to play the single-player component of Splatoon, for example, but online matches aren't available.

What about StreetPass and Spotpass on the 3DS?

StreetPass works, but Spotpass doesn't.

StreetPass utilises local communication between 3DS consoles, meaning it's not tied to online services. Theoretically, then, it should remain functional indefinitely, though we can't state this with 100% confidence.

SpotPass, however, does utilise online communication, so it no longer works beyond April 2024. So, you can no longer be able to receive new panels in Puzzle Swap (although you should be able to still get missing puzzle pieces for panels you already have via StreetPass, if you meet someone who's got a piece you need).

Here's Nintendo's exact response via its official support page, which also covers SpotPass:

StreetPass uses local communication between Nintendo 3DS family systems, meaning that it will still be available even after online services end. However, because SpotPass uses online communication, SpotPass features will no longer be available.
For example, you will be able to use StreetPass in StreetPass Mii Plaza, which is pre-installed on Nintendo 3DS family systems, but you will no longer be able to use features that use online communication (such as receiving new panels in Puzzle Swap).

Does this also affect Nintendo Badge Arcade on the 3DS?

Yes - Nintendo stated that in conjunction with the discontinuation of online services for 3DS and Wii U, features for Nintendo Badge Arcade also ended in April 2024.

The app will display an error message when launched, so you can't use it at all, including the Practice Catcher.

Nintendo has also stated that it is no longer be possible to place badges in the badge box, meaning that users will only have access to a maximum of 100 categories and 1,000 badges that are in the badge box. It recommends that users finish placing badges prior to April 2024, and also back up any additional data on multiple SD cards.

Badge Arcade
Image: Nintendo

Can I still redownload games?

As long as you already own a game on the 3DS or Wii U, you'll be able to redownload it from the eShop "for the foreseeable future".

That means that redownloading is still possible after April 2024, but we don't know how long for.

Can I still download software updates?

Software updates will be made available "for the foreseeable future" as well.

Can I still download free software?

Free software, including "free-to-start" software like Nintendo Badge Arcade, is no longer available for download since March 2023. It disappeared with the rest of the games.

Can I still add funds to buy games?

No, as of March 2023, adding funds to the 3DS and Wii U eShops is no longer possible.

Before that date, you were still able to add funds if your Nintendo Network ID (used on 3DS and Wii U) was linked with your Nintendo Account (used on Switch). If so, your eShop funds were shared across the Nintendo Switch eShop and the 3DS/Wii U eShops.

You had until 11th March 2024 to merge your 3DS and Wii U Nintendo Network ID with your Nintendo Account.

Does this affect physical games?

No, online functionality aside, physical games will still work just fine. As long as you're taking good care of them.

Can I still buy Nintendo eShop cards that say they're for Wii U/3DS? Will they work on Switch?

If you visit a shop that still sells Switch eShop cards compatible with Wii U and 3DS, you can still purchase them — they'll work just fine on the Nintendo Switch, and you'll be able to input the codes on the Switch eShop.

Can I still purchase in-game content?

After March 2023, you cannot purchase in-game content, including:

  • Anything from Nintendo Badge Arcade
  • The StreetPass Mii Plaza DLC games
  • Any themes from the 3DS theme shop
  • An annual pass for Pokémon Bank
  • Passes and DLC for Wii Sports Club's various sports

Pokémon Bank will, however, become a free service after March 2023, so you probably shouldn't be paying for it anyway. It will remain available after the online cut-off date (8th April 2024), although The Pokémon Company is encouraging players to migrate their collection to Pokémon HOME.

Poké Transporter will also continue to function for an undisclosed period post-April 2024.

Can I redeem game download codes?

You cannot redeem download codes after March 2023.

Can I still download and buy 3DS themes?

Yes and no. You can't buy any new ones after March 2023, but you can download "a small number of free themes".

Which means all the wicked SEGA-themed ones are gone, unfortunately.

Will I still be able to perform a 3DS system transfer after the online shutdown?


System transfers between 3DS consoles — which migrate all your digital game purchases and licences, saves, and other information to different 3DS system — require an internet connection and authentication via Nintendo's servers.

We reached out for clarification and Nintendo UK confirmed that 3DS system transfers will still be possible after the online service ceases operation in April 2024 with the following statement:

"Yes, Nintendo 3DS system transfer will still be available for the foreseeable future."

When did the Wii U eShop close?

The Wii U eShop closed on 27th March 2023 (the North American stores closed at 5:00 PM PT / 8:00 PM ET). If you're wondering, 'Why isn't the Wii U eShop working?' that'll be why.

When did the 3DS eShop close?

Same here — the 3DS eShop closed on 27th March 2023.

Purchases of Fire Emblem Fates from the 3DS eShop were halted earlier on 28th February 2023 thanks to the requirement to play to a certain point in the game before choosing a path and deciding which version of the game you were going to play. The additional DLC was available up to the full eShop closure date of 27th March, although obviously that is now no longer available either.

WHY is this happening?

Here's Nintendo's statement on the subject of the eShop shutdown:

"This is part of the natural lifecycle for any product line as it becomes less used by consumers over time. We are providing this notice more than a year in advance of the end of purchases so users will have plenty of time to prepare."

Does this affect the Nintendo Switch eShop?

No, the Nintendo Switch eShop will still work just fine. Who knows, it might run even better now that Nintendo has more free servers, but let's not count our eShop chickens before they've hatched.

But no. Realistically, no effect whatsoever on the Switch eShop.

What about the Virtual Console?

Sadly, the Virtual Consoles — which housed more than 530 classic games, available to purchase and download — are no more since March 2023.

Nintendo's FAQ on the subject of the eShop closures initially addressed this, but the details were soon removed from the page. Here's what they originally said (you can also click here to access the archived page yourself):

Once it is no longer possible to purchase software in Nintendo eShop on Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems, many classic games for past platforms will cease to be available for purchase anywhere. Will you make classic games available to own some other way? If not, then why? Doesn’t Nintendo have an obligation to preserve its classic games by continually making them available for purchase?

Across our Nintendo Switch Online membership plans, over 130 classic games are currently available in growing libraries for various legacy systems. The games are often enhanced with new features such as online play.

We think this is an effective way to make classic content easily available to a broad range of players. 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.

We currently have no plans to offer classic content in other ways.

What does it mean that they removed this section from the FAQ? We can't say. We can hope that the Virtual Console will return someday, but for now, it's just a hope.

Nintendo's stance is that the Nintendo Switch Online service will replace the Virtual Console, and with the addition of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo 64 games, the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service has grown since launch.

So, in summary: the eShop and online play is gone. All digital media is fleeting, so play video games while you can. And preferably, buy them physically — because who knows when they'll be cruelly ripped from you.

We've got guides to exactly which games you should have considered grabbing before they left the building (here's our list of the Best 3DS eShop exclusives for starters, plus some Wii U and DSiWare equivalents), but unfortunately, it's no longer possible to purchase them.

If you've got any further questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and we'll do our best to address them.