If there’s one aspect of Nintendo with which I’ve had a love/hate relationship, it’s Club Nintendo.
The concept behind it–gaining rewards for buying and registering Nintendo games (and systems)–was great in theory, but not always in reality. The rewards ranged from great–like exclusive items you couldn’t purchase anywhere else–to not very exciting–like Virtual Console games that many already have or aren’t interested in getting. The worst thing of all about Club Nintendo (as anyone using it can attest to) is the surveys. Every time a Nintendo product gets registered to Club Nintendo, it’s necessary to fill out two surveys to obtain rewards - one before playing it and one after the fact. The surveys have always been long and tedious, however, and filling out the same surveys every time is downright mind-numbing. But for those among the Nintendo loyal, the games still get purchased and registered.
All of that is about to change, however, as last week Nintendo officially announced that Club Nintendo will be discontinued in 2015 and that a new loyalty program will take its place at some point in the future. What this means for Club Nintendo users is yet to be seen, but it certainly provides the opportunity for growth and change.
Club Nintendo’s Closure: The Important Details
There are some important dates to note regarding Club Nintendo in its current form:
1/20/2015 - Products released after this date are not eligible for registration with Club Nintendo
3/31/2015 - Last day to earn Coins, register products with Club Nintendo, and sign up for new Club Nintendo membership
6/30/2015 - Last day to redeem Coins or access your account on the Club Nintendo website. Club Nintendo program shuts down at 11:59pm PT on 6/30/2015.
For those hoping to reach Elite Status (Gold or Platinum) in Club Nintendo, it is necessary to have reached 300 coins (for Gold Status) or 600 coins (for Platinum Status) between July 1st, 2014 and March 31st, 2015. Members who get to Elite Status will be able to choose from a wide variety of Nintendo 3DS and Wii U downloadable games, which will be available between April 1st and April 30th, 2015.
For those who have been holding onto their coins because there hasn’t been anything they’ve wanted to spend them on, Nintendo promises to give a much larger variety of both digital and exclusive physical rewards starting February 1st, 2015. Hopefully something will pique the interests of those who have been hoarding their coins. None of the information in current Club Nintendo accounts will be transferred over when the new loyalty program begins and any unused coins will be deleted as of July 1st, 2015, however, so make sure that if you want to use those coins up, you do it by 11:59 PM PST on June 30th, 2015.
New Loyalty Program
Though no information has been given regarding another loyalty program, the official announcement regarding the end of Club Nintendo seemed to indicate that there will be another program in the future. But what might Nintendo have in mind? Here are the top 5 things I think could be done to make a better Club Nintendo.
5. Make it possible to register games by scanning a QR code and make it accessible from the systems.
It’s time to stop requiring lengthy code entries for every game or system obtained. Many people have smart phones or tablets and the 3DS and Wii U are both capable of scanning QR codes, so why not make it that simple? If a Club Nintendo app were added to the main menus of the 3DS and Wii U (and made available for smart phones and tablets), the process could also be made very fast and simple.
4. Make the rewards more interesting.
Instead of offering the least popular Virtual Console games as rewards, make it possible to get some of the games made specifically for 3DS or Wii U; games like Super Mario 3D Land, any titles from The Legend of Zelda series, etc. Furthermore, it would be nice to have a larger variety of physical rewards that cannot be obtained anywhere else.
3. Eliminate or greatly simplify surveys.
Surveys are one of the main reasons many people have not bothered to register their Nintendo games with Club Nintendo. If some sort of survey is still desired by Nintendo, they could limit the survey to a star rating and leave a box for comments.
2. Bring back the Digital Deluxe Promotion, but for both 3DS and Wii U systems.
Those of us who bought the Deluxe bundle of the Wii U between November 18th, 2012 and December 31st, 2014 got 10% in points for every purchase we made on the Wii U eShop for every game we purchased digitally. Every 500 points obtained gave a $5.00 credit useable on either the 3DS or Wii U eShop. It was a nice feature for Wii U, but it could be even better if it came back for both systems, thereby encouraging more eShop purchases and earning Nintendo more money in the process. Win-win.
1. Fully embrace an account-based system.
Nintendo has been making small steps in this direction for a while, most notably in making use of Nintendo Network IDs for both Wii U and 3DS, tying the eShop balances together. But it’s time for Nintendo to fully embrace account-based systems so that games are no longer tied to specific hardware, but to an account. That way, Virtual Console games that are playable on both Wii U and 3DS (along with any other games appearing on both platforms) can be purchased just once. Doing this means that Nintendo may be required to compensate those who bought games on both systems before the change, but if they play it right, this could be their perfect opportunity to do what Sony and Microsoft have been doing for years.
“Let’s get better!”
There is a great deal of potential for Nintendo’s new loyalty program. It doesn’t have to be tedious. It’s possible to give rewards that draw Nintendo fans in for more. But ultimately, it’s up to Nintendo to do something about it. In the words of Dr. Niles Crane, I say to Club Nintendo, “Let’s get better!”
What would you like to see Nintendo do with a new loyalty program? Tell us in the comments below!