Reminder: Nintendo Wii's Online Store Is Closing

Photo: Anne wu, Flickr

The Wii has had a nice, long run, but it’s about to get a little lonelier come January 31, when Nintendo plans to shut down the Wii Shop Channel. That means no more buying games online, no more downloading games you’ve previously purchased, and no more Wii Transfer tool, which allows you to transfer digitally purchased games from the Wii to its successor, the Wii U. By turning these tools off, Nintendo is effectively shutting down the last vestiges of support for the Wii.

To Nintendo’s credit, this change has been a long time coming. Nintendo announced its plans for “sunsetting” your parents’ and/or grandparents’ fave console back in September of 2017. Nintendo stopped selling points last March, the currency used to purchase games on the platform. Plus, Nintendo has released two consoles since the Wii. It’s time to move on, folks.

Or not? If you have a Wii gathering dust on your shelf or shoved in a back closet somewhere, you might want to hook it up for a second and see if you have any last-second business that needs taking care of before the platform officially goes “out of service.” Even without access to its digital storefronts, the Wii is a perfectly good console with some decent games, so may as well make sure you’re holding onto all of them when the console goes unplugged.

When you bust out that Wii, there are three things you might want to do before the end of the month:

Spend All Those Wii Points

Graphic: Nintendo

Rather than simply letting you buy games with a credit card, the Wii Shop Channel used a platform-specific currency called “Wii Points”—like V-Bucks in Fortnite, kids—which you could buy directly or purchase as a gift card at a store.

While you are no longer able to buy points, it is still possible to buy games using whatever points you have left on the store (and transfer them to your Wii U), so let’s go shopping!

To check your balance, go to the Wii Shop Channel. On the Wii Shop Channel home screen, you can see the number of available Wii Points in the bottom center of the screen. Most downloadable WiiWare games cost between 1,000-1,500 points, and NES, Super Nintendo or Nintendo 64 games on the Wii’s Virtual Console store cost anywhere from 500-1,000 points. If you have less than 500 points in the store, you’re probably going to have to let Nintendo keep that money. If you aren’t sure what to pick, Kotaku has a nice collector’s guide to the obscure games you probably won’t be able to get once the Shop Channel closes.

Nintendo still has a list of Wii games on its website, albeit without Point pricing. The overall list includes games that are only available at retail, so it may not be 1-to-1, but it’s a handy reference and much easier to search and scroll on a phone or laptop than using the Wii’s search tools.

Download all your WiiWare and Virtual Console games

Screenshot: TTDLX (YouTube)

Once you’re sure you’ve spent every Point you can spend, you should download any and all digital games you’ve purchased for the Wii, as the store will no longer serve as a backup come February 1.

To find your downloaded games, go to Wii Shop Channel and click on “titles you’ve downloaded.” From there, you should have access to a list of every game and app you’ve ever purchased.

The Wii doesn’t have a ton of storage, so I’d recommend clearing out Netflix and any other apps that require online support to make room for games. Still, if you bought a lot of WiiWare and Virtual Console games—more than seven or eight, let’s say—you might not be able to download them all onto the console.

If you still need more room, you can store and play Wii games from an SD card. To transfer games from internal storage to an inserted SD card, select the Wii-shaped icon in the lower left of the home screen to go to the Wii Menu, and then select the “data management” menu. From there, pick the game you want to transfer and press “copy.” (You will have to do this one game at a time. Sorry). You can also choose to download games to directly onto an SD Card from the Shop Channel.

There is one caveat here: If you plan to transfer games from your Wii to a Wii U, they must be stored on the console’s internal hard drive.

Transfer your digital games to your Wii U

Lastly, if you have a Wii U, it might make sense to move your digital games to that platform, which still has an “active”—read: usable—store and ecosystem.

To transfer data from a Wii to a Wii U, you will need both consoles hooked up to a TV and connected to the internet, and an SD card with at least 512 MB of storage. If you’re using a single TV, you will need to swap between inputs occasionally. The Wii U will need to be connected to your Nintendo account. Lastly, Nintendo recommends you sync up an extra Wii remote to your Wii U, if possible.

To initiate the transfer, download the Wii U transfer tool app from the Shop Channel on the Wii and the eShop on the Wii U. Activate them on both consoles and follow the instructions. According to Nintendo’s instructions, you should insert the SD card in the Wii U at the beginning of the process and initiate the transfer there.

If you need a little more help, Nintendo has very detailed instructions on its support site. You can also check out their video tutorial at the top of the section.


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