Apr 12, 2014

Why is Nintendo shutting down Wii online services?

I still play my Wii from time to time, and I was not pleased to learn that Nintendo was shutting down it’s online gaming, leaderboards, matchmaking, etc. It has been less than a year and a half since the Wii U was released and you can still buy a new Wii. I still have my original XBox and after it was replaced with the X360 you could still play Halo 2 online for 4-5 years after sales of the first gen Xbox ended. This seems like an absurdly short amount of time for Nintendo to support a game and console that is still on the market new. I played Mario Kart Wii online just a couple of days ago and the servers were still pretty active. Why kill off something that is obviously still in use? This does not motivate me to purchase a Wii U, if that is their intention, it motivates me to buy a PS4 or Xbox One.

Nintendo Bidding Farewell to Wii and DS Online Multiplayer This May

"On the upside, Nintendo’s leaving most of its non-gaming services on the systems alone. So the Wii Shop Channel, Nintendo DSi Shop and on-demand video services are “not affected at this time,” though the words “at this time” sound vaguely doleful in that context. Nothing’s forever, but neither the Wii nor DS are yet a decade old (the DS launched in late 2004, the Wii in late 2006). You’d like to think these systems might have half again as much time left, even used as basic utility boxes.

I’ll leave you with Nintendo’s parting words on the matter: “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.”"

I agree that support for online play is ending too quickly, but the reason may not be entirely Nintendo’s fault. They don’t run their own server network and matchmaking for Wii online gaming, they farm it out to GameSpy’s server network which uses GameSpy middleware to function, which locks it to GameSpy and prevent transfer to other servers. Apparently that company was acquired by Glu Mobile which has moved to shut down old servers for older games and has raised prices significantly, basically forcing Nintendo to choose between paying much more for a service that is in declining use or shutting down online play. Because of the middleware used, it would be very difficult to migrate the service to a different company. Nintendo has been operating at a loss for some time, and that may have played a role in the decision to go with the “shut it down” option.  

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