With six years having passed since the release of the Switch, it seems like every other week there’s a rumor that we’re just days away from Nintendo unveiling a new system. None of that speculation has panned out yet, but what Nintendo Japan has announced is that the end is officially coming for one of its other consoles, the Wii U.
The Wii U hit store shelves in late 2012, and production completely ended just a little over four years later, in January of 2017. That’s a pretty short lifespan for modern video game hardware. By comparison, the Wii U’s predecessor, the Wii, was in production for nearly twice as long, roughly seven years. The Wii U’s speedy exit from the market means that Nintendo has already reached the end of its legal obligations to stock replacement parts and offer repair services for the hardware and its Wii U Gamepad. Because of that, Nintendo of Japan posted an announcement on its website and through its official Twitter account stating that once the current supply of replacement parts is used up, it will cease offering repair services for the Wii U.
In its statement, Nintendo acknowledges that the nature of the moratorium means that it is unable to supply consumers with an exact date on which repair services will end, and apologizes while asking for their understanding on the matter. Ostensibly, though, Nintendo could have just chosen to shut down Wii U repair services as soon as all produced units were out of their warranty periods, so continuing the program until it’s used up all of its existing repair parts is going above and beyond what they’re legally required to do.
Nintendo, obviously, isn’t the only video game company that eventually sunsets after-sale support for its previous-generation hardware. There is a unique, and inconvenient, wrinkle though, in that Nintendo is far less likely than rivals Sony or Microsoft to offer for-sale digital versions of previous-generation games on its newest console. Another point to consider for retro game fans and historians is that the Wii U is backwards-compatible with the Wii, but the Switch isn’t backwards-compatible with either. So in effect, the end of repair service for the Wii U means the end of repair service for hardware needed to play physical-copy games of two entire Nintendo software generations.
So for gamers with a Wii U or Gamepad that’s in less-than-optimal condition, now’s the time to get it fixed.
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