It appears as if Nintendo is beginning to restrict the Wii U and 3DS’s ability to play online ahead of schedule (via Nintendo Life).
The possible shutdown was first reported by Jonathan Barrow of Pretendo, an “open-source Nintendo Network replacement” with the goal of preserving online functionality for the two platforms in question. Barrow’s findings point towards recent difficulties players are experiencing in getting Wii U and 3DS games to go online, as part of a “slow rollout” of Nintendo’s plans to discontinue services.
Back in October, Nintendo announced online services for the Wii U and 3DS systems would come to an end sometime in early April 2024. This was to be the next step in sending the former home console and beloved handheld off to the farm after their respective digital storefronts were shuttered in March 2023.
“Please note 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,” the company said in an official statement at the time, which may explain the events we’re seeing at this time.
Polygon tested the issue by trying to take a digital copy of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS online, only to receive an error code previously assigned to the Pokémon Bank app. A quick scan of social media showed users encountering unresolvable connectivity problems with the same error code across several different 3DS games, including Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Yo-kai Watch 2, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
Polygon has reached out to Nintendo for more information and will update this story if we learn more. Whether this is a concerted effort on Nintendo’s part to pound the final nail in the Wii U and 3DS’s coffins or a symptom of some other issue, it’s clear that players only have so long to enjoy online play on these two systems. If you’ve found yourself with the itch for one more round of the last generation’s Super Smash Bros. games while enjoying the holiday break, you should get on that sooner rather than later.