While most of the gaming landscape is focused on the current generation of consoles, it’s important to remember that last-generation hardware is still alive and kicking. Most online services are still up and running, and for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold subscribers, each month ushers in a new pair of free games that can be enjoyed on older hardware.
For those who are still enjoying the original Wii (and its rather sizeable library of both retro and retail games), you’re gonna want to mark this down in your calendar. As detailed on their website, Nintendo has announced that they are planning to close the Wii Shop Channel on January 30, 2019. Having originally launched back in December 2006, the Wii Shop Channel allowed users to download Virtual Console games, which included titles from the original Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Nintendo 64, as well as Sega Master System and Mega Drive/Genesis games. The storefront also hosted WiiWare games, which were smaller titles with a strict 40 MB size limit. Aside from games, the channel was also home to a handful of other applications, including the Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video, Crunchyroll, and Hulu Plus players, which allowed Wii owners to stream video directly to their console.
If you’re still planning on adding Wii Points to your account (which is required to purchase games), you will only have until March 26, 2018 to do so. After the channel closes down in January of 2019, users will be unable to download any new games, and more importantly, will be locked out of redownloading games which have already been purchased. Similarly, since the shop will be closing, gamers will have a limited amount of time to download the Wii U Transfer Tool, which is used to transfer games and other purchased content from a Wii to a Wii U. While Nintendo has not finalized a date as of yet, they have stated that the ability to transfer content between consoles will also be removed at some point.
Aside from the fact that this announcement marks a discontinuation of a major video game download service, it’s worth noting that many classic retro games will also be unavailable moving forwards, as they are only available for purchase on the Wii’s Virtual Console. Nintendo has yet to make any formal announcements regarding a Virtual Console service on the Nintendo Switch. Of course, for many, the biggest loss will come in the form of the always-catchy Wii Shop Channel music.
[Featured image by Larry Marano/Getty Images]