UPDATE (2/2/15): Nintendo has updated their rewards for February, the final month for new rewards, and HOLY COW! Nintendo has uploaded over 100 downloadable titles from their current console and Virtual Console catalogue. Nintendo has also added some new physical rewards as well. Definitely a fitting ending to this amazing club. Go and redeem those coins!
Nintendo has long prided itself with its treasure trove of beloved properties and creating merchandise to commemorate them. Ever since the NES era, Nintendo has been making blankets, statues, keychains and even cereal to show off its characters. Heck, the company got its start as a hanafuda card maker and moved on to making toys before video games. And since 2008, Nintendo has been channeling this love into their reward service, Club Nintendo. It was a one-stop shop for dedicated fans to register products, answer surveys and in return, get access to some of the best gifts Nintendo had to offer. There was nothing more exciting than getting something new from the shop. But alas, it is no more. Nintendo has decided to shut down the service, ending a long standing run of enjoyment and service to dedicated fans. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as it seems that we are about to start another long and prosperous journey with this remarkable company.
Club Nintendo was a great place to find unique Nintendo-themed items you wouldn’t normally be able to find elsewhere in stores. Items ranged from shoelaces, folders, thank you cards, to higher worth items such as t-shirts and tote bags. If you had bought and registered enough products, you had access to an exclusive selection of gifts at the end of the year. It was a dream to any dedicated fan. Unfortunately, within the last couple of years, Nintendo’s stock and quality had begun to diminish. Items were becoming discontinued and the range of products was shrinking with each passing month, being replaced with digital options of older, and frankly, underwhelming titles. Even the hardcore exclusives were disappointing. Among this travesty, it was not hard to see why this was happening.
Nintendo has always been the over-protective farmer, never letting its prized horses leave the stable. However, amongst a financial downfall in the past couple of years, they decided that it was finally time to let loose. Suddenly a new stream of revenue based on merchandise was available, providing less incentive to continue a gift-based rewards program. Nintendo also introduced a trial digital promotion for all Deluxe Wii U consoles. It gave financial credit to customers after purchasing a certain amount of digital games from their eShop. Combining these two forces was a one-two punch, and the Club was knocked out.
What is enlightening is seeing the phoenix rise from the ashes. Club Nintendo will most definitely return, bringing with it a combination of past programs with a little more added to the mix. I believe this new program will be exclusively digital in nature. No more physical rewards that take up space, not to mention shipping costs. You buy games from the eShop and you get benefits in return. No fuss, no hassle, just instant gratification. Not to mention much cheaper to operate. I also think the service will be much easier to access across a plethora of devices. Nintendo is slowly beginning to understand the importance of mobile interactions. Japan basically lives and runs off mobile devices, and Nintendo’s website has been making the transition to fully mobile compatibility. We have already seen Nintendo push their eShop quite heavily, giving it more functionality and the ability to access all your games and all your rewards at any time is hugely appealing.
With these two facets in place, Nintendo can also reach a wider audience around the world. They have always struggled reaching consumers in smaller countries and with the ever growing digital world we live in, it will be hard not to make a statement. If Nintendo decides to do anything further than that, the results will be even more interesting. They could offer exclusive wallpapers, customs ringtones or maybe even give soundtracks or other media options. Perhaps even exclusive games? With digital rewards, there really isn’t a limit to media content that you can offer. What will also be interesting is how this new loyalty program will play into Nintendo’s new consoles. I’m sure whatever hardware Nintendo is cooking up will have close ties to these systems (But that’s for another time). I will miss Club Nintendo. I liked answering all those surveys and giving my opinion. I felt as though Nintendo truly cared what I though about their products and it made me feel like I had a real connection to the company that I love. My Mario hat that I wear every year as part of my Halloween costume was an exclusive gift from that program and knowing that physical gifts like that will never be around truly does break my heart. But the future is bright. Nothing is better than getting free stuff and nobody does it better than Nintendo.