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You can still buy digital Wii U and 3DS games, but not for long

Merge, then splurge

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A New Nintendo 3DS with the Super Smash Bros. game on display. Image: Nintendo
Cameron Faulkner (he/him) is Polygon’s commerce editor. He began writing about tech and gaming in 2013, and migrated from The Verge in 2023.

There isn’t much time left to buy games and digital content for Nintendo’s 3DS/2DS and Wii U. Nintendo will close the digital storefronts for both platforms on March 27, which means that you need to act quickly if you want new digital games at their retail prices, and to pick up some Virtual Console titles.

If you haven’t used either console in a while, or if you’re buying a used model right as they’re about to slip further into obscurity (I fully support this decision), it can be confusing to know exactly how to give Nintendo your money in exchange for digital games.

Can’t I just use a credit card?

No, you can no longer add your credit card to these systems to buy a game. That functionality was removed in May 2022. Slightly later in the year, Nintendo made it so you can’t redeem eShop gift cards via these consoles. As of now, you have two options for adding funds to purchase eShop games for 3DS and Wii U. One is through My Nintendo Store, the Nintendo website where you can redeem an eShop gift card to put funds on your account, or purchase the exact game that you want with said funds, or with a credit card.

Alternatively, you can redeem an eShop gift card or digitally add funds through your Nintendo Switch via its eShop. This assumes that your old Nintendo Network ID and your Nintendo Account have been merged (more on the merging process below).

$45 Nintendo eShop gift card

  • $45

Prices taken at time of publishing.

OK, funds are added. Time to downlo—

Wait. There’s one more hurdle that you might have to jump over, unless you’ve done it already. That is the merging of your Nintendo Network ID with a Nintendo Account, the latter of which is what Nintendo introduced in 2017 with the Switch and continues to use (both the 3DS family of systems and the Wii U use NNID accounts). Your shared eShop balance, if you have a balance, will show up on these consoles once you’ve merged them onto a singular Nintendo Account.

How can I buy digital 3DS games?

This one’s easy. Once you have your accounts merged and are armed with some eShop funds, you can buy games directly through your 3DS or 2DS console. However, I suggest shopping on the My Nintendo Store website, which is much faster to navigate and checkout through. You can easily search for 3DS games there — many of which are heavily discounted ahead of the eShop store’s closure.

How can I buy digital Wii U games?

This one’s a little tougher. Wii U games and all Virtual Console games purchasable through the Wii U eShop aren’t available through your browser on the My Nintendo Store. That’s too bad! To load up on games, you’ll need to do that directly through the Wii U’s endearing, yet very sluggish interface.

A black Wii U GamePad and console sit on top of a glossy surface. Photo: Brian Crecente/Polygon

What happens to my eShop balance after March 27?

Assuming you’ve merged accounts, the remaining balance on either device will be available for use on Switch digital games. If you don’t merge your accounts before the closure, you’ll likely lose your funds.

Can I redownload games that I’ve purchased?

Yes, and for the foreseeable future, according to Nintendo’s support article detailing the closure. Similarly, Nintendo says that the ability to play games online will persist past the eShop closure.