Talking tech since 2003

Still playing a lot of Wii or DS multiplayer? You’d better squeeze every last second out of Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros. Brawl that you can; according to Polygon, Nintendo is set to shut down certain types of online functionality — like multiplayer gaming — for both the Wii console and the DS portable on May 20.

Mario Kart Wii for the Nintendo Wii (photo credit: IGN).
Mario Kart Wii for the Nintendo Wii (photo credit: IGN).

The Wii launched back on November 19, 2006; nearly a year after the Xbox 360 and two days after the PlayStation 3. Multiplayer on both of those consoles are still supported, and it looks like it’ll stay that way for the foreseeable future. So why is Nintendo pulling the plug on multiplayer for the Wii?

There are a few theories floating around in my head.

One is that Nintendo knows it has new Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart games in the pipeline, and these are always popular multiplayer titles for Nintendo. By shutting down multiplayer on the Wii, Nintendo can push some of those Wii owners to upgrade to the Wii U.

The other is that keeping the servers online just isn’t worth it anymore. Nintendo is already losing boatloads of cash trying to push the Wii U; why lose even more money supporting multiplayer for a system you’re trying to replace? Sure, Nintendo may irk some Wii owners by yanking this support, but if these Nintendo faithful don’t already own a Wii U, they might have given Nintendo their last dollar, anyway.

As for the Nintendo DS? The shutdown of multiplayer servers for that portable probably has more to do with dormancy than anything. Nintendo’s 3DS is selling very well for the company, and the system has a healthy library and some good looking games on the way. Ending online support for the DS doesn’t seem as questionable as it does for the Wii.

It’s always amusing to see a company spin bad news for its customers as great news, and Nintendo’s statement to Polygon on the matter is no exception.

As of May 20, 2014, certain online functionality, including online play, matchmaking and leaderboards for many Wii, Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi games, will no longer be accessible. For a list of Nintendo games and services that are affected, please check Users can still play these games in offline mode, which continues to offer a rich game-play experience. Other online functionality on Wii and Nintendo DS, such as access to the Wii Shop Channel, the Nintendo DSi Shop and video-on-demand services, are also not affected at this time.

Online play for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games will be unaffected (aside from the Wii mode on Wii U and Nintendo DS games played on Nintendo 3DS family systems). Our focus now shifts to readying our Wii U and Nintendo 3DS matchmaking services for upcoming games such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros.

We at Nintendo sincerely thank our fans for their continued support of our company’s legacy systems. Your enthusiasm for games made for these systems speaks to their longevity, and the passion of Nintendo fans.

In case you were worrying, Wii and DS gamers, you’ll still be able to play your games in offline mode, “which continues to offer a rich game-play experience.” If you want the online goodies, though, you’re going to have to fork over a couple hundred bucks.

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