Nintendo is switching off the eShop for Wii U and 3DS systems in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean on July 31, 2020. This means that affected countries won’t be able to redeem codes for software, redownload games or download updates after this date for both systems.
Nintendo notes that the affected countries have ‘limited’ stores, offering more basic functions than their full-featured counterparts.
Countries due to lose ‘limited’ eShop access are the following: Anguilla, Antigua/Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Cost Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent/Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The reason given by Nintendo is pretty uninformative: “We constantly re-evaluate our business and make decisions based on a variety of factors.” It’s noted that Brazil and Mexico’s full eShops aren’t affected by this.
It’s not unlikely that Nintendo 3DS use is down significantly given that the Switch has been the dominant Nintendo platform for a while now, but you could argue that’s not really the point. If you buy a game for a system that’s less than a decade old, it’s not unreasonable to want to redownload that software if you need to clear space for other games, for example. From this summer, that won’t be possible for users in these countries.
Since countries like the US, UK and Australia have full eShops, they won’t be affected by the change.
What’s Nintendo’s track record with digital?
While this won’t affect the US or UK, Nintendo has closed digital storefronts around the world before.
Nintendo shuttered its Wii Shop back in January 2019, and while you can redownload Wii software for now, eventually you won’t be able to do so, according to a notice on its site. “In the future, we will be closing all services related to the Wii Shop Channel, including redownloading purchased WiiWare, Virtual Console titles, and Wii Channels, as well as Wii System Transfer Tool, which transfers data from the Wii console to the Wii U console.”
So if you spent money collecting digital N64 games on Wii, eventually you’ll never be able to redownload them. You might want to do that if you buy a replacement Wii, for example.
A similar move was made in closing the DSi store in 2017. Again, you can redownload software “for a limited time”.
It’s a pretty outdated attitude, and why we’re wary of Nintendo taking steps to close any of its digital stores. Compared to Microsoft, where games you bought 15 years ago on Xbox Live Arcade probably still work now on Xbox One, Nintendo needs clarity on its decision making around older digital storefronts.