The Wii Shop Channel is a vehicle for downloading software for the Wii (and later Wii U downloads of Wii software) console that primarily served three functions. The first was a vehicle to download additional “channels” – Nintendo’s name for applications on the console. The second core function was the sale and download of Virtual Console games, older Nintendo titles from past consoles that were emulated on new hardware. The final major function was the sale and download of WiiWare, smaller digital titles developed especially for the console.
All of the above services related to the Wii Shop Channel will be ended along with the Wii U Transfer Tool which transfers data from the older Nintendo console to the newer one. The closure will be progressing in three phases:
- You will no longer be able to add Wii Points to the channel on Monday, March 26, 2018, at 4:00 PM Eastern Time.
- You will no longer be able to purchase WiiWare, Virtual Console games, and Wii Channels (free software included) on Thursday, January 31, 2019, at 1:00 PM Eastern Time.
- Full closure of the channel and disabling of redownload functions will take effect sometime in 2019. The specific time will be announced at a later date.
Once the ability to download software for Wii software on Wii and Wii U ends in 2019, it stands to reason that you will only have the data you’ve already downloaded until your console dies. Save games and other important data can be backed up externally, and while a number of imaging schemes and emulators exist for the consoles it’s still a bit of tricky business. In the meantime, if you’ve been holding out on making any digital purchases of Wii content, you have six months left to add points to the Wii Shop Channel.
The Wii becomes the second 7th generation console to announce the shutting down of its ability to purchase and download smaller or older games. In 2015, Microsoft announced the same for the Xbox 360’s XBox Indie Games which focused on indie games and is expected to shut down this year.
Correction: We originally stated that the Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Arcade was shutting down. Xbox Live Indie Games is the service that is closing; Xbox Live Arcade will remain open for the foreseeable future. We apologize for the error.
What do you think of the Wii Shop Channel closing down? Do you think the closure of a console’s online store will impact the long-term life of a console’s software? What’s your favorite game that you downloaded from the store? Let us know in the comments below!