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Nintendo was waiting for Wii U 10th anniversary before shutting eShop, report claims

Suggestion of full closure in coming years.

Nintendo has been ready to close the Wii U eShop for years, but was waiting for the console's upcoming 10th anniversary to pass.

That's according to a new report published by Nintendo Life, which cites a former Nintendo of America employee speaking anonymously on the inner workings of the company.

Earlier this week, Nintendo upset the internet when it announced it would remove the ability to purchase digital 3DS and Wii U games from March next year. (Wii U turns 10 years old this November.)

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"Nintendo knows it has to support a product for a minimum of 10 years or they risk some class action," the ex-Nintendo employee said, adding that the decision not to support Wii U long-term was made long ago.

"Internally, [Nintendo] has been waiting for that day since 2014 based on sales... Nintendo looks at the first two years as the indicator of when to start packing it in with a console."

It's worth comparing the Wii U to Nintendo's hugely-successful 3DS handheld. Originally launched in 2011, the handheld's eShop will have lasted a year longer than Wii U when both have purchasing switched off next March.

Lifetime sales of the 3DS sit above 75.7m, compared to the Wii U's 13.5m.

Nintendo has said the Wii U and 3DS eShops will continue to allow game owners to redownload existing purchases for "the foreseeable future", but the employee suggests this functionality may also be lost soon.

"They will give notice in 2023 that the server will be shut down after a time..." the ex-employee predicted. "People will 100 percent lose their games if something happens to their Wii U or the drive they have their games on."

Nintendo did not issue a new comment to Nintendo Life for its report.

Last night, the Video Game History Foundation offered its view on the changes to the 3DS and Wii U eShops. "We understand the business reality that went into this decision," the group wrote, "What we don't understand is what path Nintendo expects fans to take, should they wish to play these games in the future."