Online gaming may be a big part of our hobby these days, but it doesn't come for free — companies have to spend cash to keep the infrastructure in place and running smoothly. That also means that over time, services will be switched off when they're no longer deemed to be as vital as they once were.

That's exactly what Nintendo is going to do on May 20th, as it has been confirmed via various official sites that it will be deactivating the Wi-Fi Connection service on the Wii, DS and DSi consoles. This is the online portal which permits net play on various games, including Mario Kart DS and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The Wii Speak channel, which requires Wi-Fi Connection to function, will also become unusable.

Nintendo has stated that offline play is unaffected, and the Wii shop and DSi shop channels will remain in place, which means you can still download content on both of those systems. Nintendo of America has said that video on-demand services will also remain live, but it has been revealed that the Nintendo Video service for Australia and New Zealand — which offers free 3D videos for download — will close on March 31st.

Nintendo has confirmed the news via its North American, Australian and Japanese sites.

While it's unreasonable to expect Nintendo to keep such functionality running forever, it's important to remember that there are a lot more Wii and DS systems out there right now than there are Wii U and 3DS consoles — so is this a calculated move by the company to force existing customers to upgrade? Or do you believe that these two amazingly popular formats have simply reached the end of their useful life spans? Let us know by leaving a comment, and also let us know how this switch-off will impact you personally.