Last Updated on April 14, 2023
In the deluge of PSAs about the Nintendo eShop evicting the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS, something important is being overlooked.
The Nintendo 3DS has no business being dumped. Games were still being released on the flexible handheld even after the closure was announced. As a lightweight and hackable alternative to the Switch, the 3DS has everything the Switch does not.
Which begs the question: what on earth is Nintendo playing at?
I love the Wii U, but it failed
Like a tablet with a built-in game controller that you could take across the room, the Nintendo Wii U looked weird. This is probably why it only shifted 13.56 million units. It was as playable (if not more) than the Wii, but looking odd and like a device that was about 5 years from realization really didn’t help.
Frankly, I’m amazed, 11 years after its birth, that the Wii U’s eShop was still open. That seems like a mistake that should have been rectified at least in 2017. If anything, its continued eShop survival has been on the back of the 3DS.
The Nintendo 3DS eShop is packed with bargains
It may only have hours to live, but the Nintendo 3DS eShop is jam-packed with bargains. NintendoLife has put together a great list of deals you can grab on the 3DS and the Wii U, and titles for the handheld outnumbers the larger device by about 3 to 1.
The reason for this is simple: the Nintendo 3D was well supported by developers (as its precursors had been) and was popular. While its estimated lifetime sales (2012 to 2022) are 75.94 million (and as such, far lower than the Switch’s current 122 million), that figure is far more than the Wii U managed. In short, the 3DS can be considered a popular, desirable platform appreciated by owners and developers.
The Nintendo 3DS will be back soon
In fact, I’ve seen enough comment and praise online in the past few months to suspect that this might be the shortest platform lay-off in history. They all come back again, one way or another, but after learning of the possibility of an eShop backup (or replacement) and people paying silly money for 3DS consoles, it seems to me that the 3DS might just pop outside for some fresh air before popping back in again, ready to play.
Lumping the 3DS eShop in with the Wii U eShop might have something to do with the technology they share, having been launched around the same time. Cancelling them together may have been more convenient than leaving the 3DS store running.
Based on sales and predicted lifespan, it was the wrong thing to do; looking at the game library and recent dev support, it was a mistake; and given how passionate its users are, I can’t see the Nintendo 3DS taking this lying down…
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.