Next spring, Nintendo will shut down the online services behind nearly all of its 3DS and Wii U software, affecting multiplayer and other connected features. According to Nintendo, “This also includes online co-operative play, internet rankings, and data distribution.”
News of this early April 2024 shutdown follows the return of online features for the Wii U versions of Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon, which had disappeared between March and August while Nintendo dealt with a “vulnerability related to online play.”
There’s no specific date listed for the shutdown yet, and Nintendo’s FAQ also mentions that “if an event occurs that would make it difficult to continue online services for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U software, we may have to discontinue services earlier than planned.”
SpotPass features are also going away, but Nintendo says that StreetPass links between 3DS family systems will continue to work anywhere you can find someone else who has one, even after these servers go away. This planned early April 2024 shutdown will occur just over ten years after the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Service went offline, ending online services for Nintendo’s Wii and DS titles in 2014.
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).
This also brings to an end to the Nintendo Badge Arcade game that let owners decorate their 3DS home menus with stickers snagged using a virtual crane arm. This FAQ describes what will happen after April and says that data for the virtual badges will be stored solely on users’ SD cards after that, so players may want to back those up or risk losing the prizes could cost real money to obtain.
The 3DS had a slow start when it launched in 2010 but eventually moved over 75 million units, with strong sales that continued even after the launch of the Switch before it was discontinued in 2020.
If you’re wondering what this suggests for the future of Nintendo’s other online services, this summer, its CEO Shuntaro Furukawa said the current Nintendo Account system is key to smooth its transition to a new generation of hardware after the Switch. He noted how difficult it was to rebuild customer relationships each time it launched a new network with previous systems.