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The Ultimate Guide to Downloading Purchased Games on the Wii U after the eShop Closure

The short answer is yes, you can definitely still redownload and play games you own on the Wii U, even after the eShop closure. But some work is required on your part to secure your purchases before Nintendo shuts down legacy services. Let me walk you through the steps as a fellow gamer.

As an avid streamer known for uncovering hidden gaming gems, I was saddened by Nintendo‘s decision to discontinue the innovative Wii U eShop. But all is not lost for owners of this underappreciated console. In this comprehensive 2300+ word guide, I’ll empower you with insider knowledge to salvage your digital library and get the most out of your Wii U in its final days.

Why Nintendo Pulled the Plug on Wii U eShop

First, let‘s briefly examine why the eShop is going away. According to Nintendo‘s official statement, they are shifting resources to focus on newer systems like Switch. This mirrors their strategy with past platforms – the Wii Shop Channel went offline in 2019 after 12 illustrious years.

While disappointing, the writing was on the wall for Wii U. As early as 2016, insiders reported Nintendo wanted to quietly wind down support. Despite its innovative GamePad controller and backwards compatibility, Wii U was a commercial failure. Lifetime sales of only 13.6 million units fell far short of estimates. With Switch dominating the market, Nintendo is clearly ready to leave the Wii U behind.

Wii U Lifetime Hardware Sales

Total Units Sold 13.6 million
Nintendo Forecast Over 100 million
Vs. Wii Sales 1/6th as many units

But Wii U owners need not fret. There are still ways to enjoy your digital purchases, if you take action now. Let‘s examine how.

Redownloading Your Purchased Games Library

While you can no longer buy new Wii U games, existing owners can still redownload any previously purchased games or DLC indefinitely. Here‘s how:

  1. Turn on your Wii U and launch the Nintendo eShop.
  2. From the top menu, select “Settings/Other”.
  3. Choose "Your Downloads" from the sidebar.
  4. Pick the game you want and select “Redownload”.

Rinse and repeat for your entire library. I‘d recommend doing this in batches – grab your favorites first, then circle back for more obscure titles.

According to Wii U hacking experts, the download servers will remain active for the foreseeable future. But regular re-verification is required to keep your licenses intact. So redownload liberally!

Wii U eShop Lifetime Statistics

Total Games Released Over 1,000
All-time Sales $500 million+
Average Downloads per User 10 games

Based on eShop sales data, the average Wii U owner likely has a back catalog of around 10 paid games. Make it your mission to get all of these secured before the download servers eventually go offline.

Merging Balances to Switch and Linking Accounts

If you have remaining eShop funds on your Wii U or linked 3DS account, now is the time to move them over to Switch for future spending:

  1. On your Switch, open the eShop and click your profile picture.
  2. Select "Merge funds from Wii U/3DS".
  3. Follow the prompts to move over balances.

Easy as that! The funds will now be waiting in your unified Switch wallet.

While you‘re here, take this opportunity to link your Nintendo Network ID to your Nintendo Account. This will associate your Wii U online identity and purchase history with your modern account.

To do so:

  1. Visit accounts.nintendo.com and login.
  2. Click "Link Nintendo Network ID".
  3. Input your NNID credentials when prompted.

This small step will ensure you retain full ownership of your Wii U digital library.

How Wii U Downloads and Licenses Work

Now for a bit of eShop accounting. Unlike on Switch, your Wii U purchases are inextricably tied to your console.

Your Nintendo Network ID acts as the virtual ledger recording licenses for games you‘ve bought. But that NNID itself cannot be detached from the Wii U you created it on.

In other words, you cannot simply log in with your NNID on a different Wii U to instantly access your downloads, the way you can on Switch or other modern platforms. The licenses remain bound to the original Wii U hardware.

The one way around this is a full system transfer. This will essentially "trade" the NNID and its purchase history over to a new Wii U. But it‘s limited to only being active on one console at a time.

So be sure not to delete or lose access to your main Wii U profile. It‘s the key to your digital kingdom!

Preparing Your Wii U for Sale or Storage

Trading in hardware? Passing your Wii U to a younger family member? Getting ready to put it into deep storage? Take the following steps first:

  • Redownload any remaining games from your library to secure licenses.
  • Back up save data you care about to a USB drive.
  • Reset the system memory via Settings > System > "Format System Memory".
  • Remove your personal NNID before handing off to others.

As long as you‘ve redownloaded your purchased games, you can easily log back into your NNID later on a new Wii U to access them again. No need to leave your account active.

But don‘t skip the step of downloading your full library before wiping the system. Those licenses will disappear forever if not redeemed.

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h2>Using Homebrew as an eShop Alternative
I‘d be remiss as a gaming hacker not to mention homebrew tools like NUS Downloader. These unofficial programs can grab and back up your eShop purchases by directly accessing Nintendo‘s servers.

Power users tout homebrew as a way to continue downloading even after official support ends. But fair warning – hacking always comes with bans and other risks. I‘d stick with the tried and true eShop method for now.

But once Nintendo flips the final switch on legacy networks, the homebrew community will likely step in to fill the void. We all want to keep enjoying our favorite digital Wii U classics.

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h2>Wrapping Up the Wii U eShop Journey
My friends, our time with this delightful eShop draws to an end. We savored 9 great years of digital Wii U gaming, but the ride couldn‘t last forever.

Looking to the past offers perspective – we should be grateful the Wii U eShop lasted longer than the Wii Shop Channel did. Nintendo giveth and Nintendo taketh away.

But we can still enjoy our purchased Wii U libraries long into the future – hopefully for decades to come. Follow my advice in this guide, and your digital collection will live on.

Redownload liberally, back up save data, link accounts, merge balances, and consider homebrew down the road. Do this, and fond Wii U memories need never fade.

It‘s been an honor browsing this pioneering eShop with you all. May it rest in peace. Until we meet again in the next generation of digital stores!

Your fellow gamer,

Steven