Well, it was a matter of time, really. And how much time often depends on the company. But whenever the newest model comes out, a company eventually stops supporting the old model. Yesterday, it was announced to the world that it won’t be long before the remaining online functionality for the Wii as well as all the online functionality of the original DS will be turned off. In both cases this means Nintendo will be the first company shutting down their online offerings on their last gen consoles.
So what does that mean to you, the gamer? Well, if you own either of these machines, you might want to get the most out of it, because on May 20th, everything goes offline. Games, features, the digital store… all of it will be gone. Perhaps now is a good time for a few last hurrah’s on Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart DS/Wii or any of the various DS Pokemon titles.
If there are some games on the Wii’s digital store you want to get your hands on, better do it now before you lose the ability forever. After all, unlike many other consoles, your game is attached to the console and does not need the internet to play once you’ve downloaded, so if there is anything you’ve missed on these machines digitally, now is the time to grab them. And this note goes for anyone who has made the conversion to WiiU as well. You still have access to the old digital store via the Wii emulation option, so you still have a chance to pick up anything you missed and wanted to try out. At the very least in either case, you should probably go nuts to empty out whatever points you still have sitting on the Wii side. The 3DS, might not lose as much as the DS titles show up in it’s store rather then having separate access to the DS one… but there are no guarantees.
And if you plan to upgrade to a WiiU, now is also the time for that. I speak from experience having made the upgrade myself, and the process requires the Wii Store to be online. You will basically be transferring the code for your Wii console to your WiiU, and then the process will proceed to download your ENTIRE Wii digital library to the WiiU. It never actually copies anything across via the SD card you need to do this. As a result, if you upgrade to a WiiU AFTER May 20th, you will NOT get all your Wii titles to follow you over.
If your Wii was serving up things like YouTube and Netflix to your TV, you would also be wise to find a new machine for these purposes, too, as Youtube was specifically mentioned as one of the services going offline. I suspect Netflix will as well since it’s entirely possible that this needs to connect through Nintendo like it does PSN on PS3 or XBL on any Xbox platform.
Whatever you need to do before the deadline, be it pick up a few rare gems you’ve been meaning to play or find a new machine, now is the time. And while this is a cheap lesson in digital on consoles due to not really losing any games, it is one to take to heart about the digital age coming. For the first time really in gaming, we are looking at an entire platform and access to everything on it going away in a few short months. From the ability to get them to the ability to play them online. And while this is technically possible on any digital platform, it seems like it’s inevitable and when the platform is dependent on specific hardware and a specific company’s continued support of it, when we all know eventually, they will release their newer shinier faster and more powerful model. In short, this is one of the reasons why I understand and believe in physical games being mandatory for consoles.
UPDATE: Apparently there was an error on the IGN site that was fixed since writing this. As of right now, the list I had seen listing functions as going offline is no longer on the page. I don not see an update note saying it was removed, so I do not know what happened to it. I can only assume someone wrote something they were not supposed to or a draft was put up before anyone knew it and has since been taken down. I must apologize for being mislead AND in the process misleading you.
Instead, we now have a list of games run online by Nintendo. It appears this shutdown will NOT shutdown the online stores, Youtube, or Netflix. As a result, you should have access to these things and all your games for a while still on the system. Still, the old story is an eye-opener as all consoles once they are no longer supported must go through this transition, and with no way in most cases to play the games of the previous, the idea shows why digital gaming on console doesn’t work in the long-term, as well as shows why getting a digital game on the last gen (360/PS3) now should be a cautioned action at best.