The End And Future Of Club Nintendo

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I’d been meaning to say something about the end of Club Nintendo for a while. Nintendo’s loyalty program has not been an insignificant subject on this blog.

Really it’s just another sign of where Nintendo is going these days, in more ways than one. I’m just having a hard time figuring out what that says for the company’s future.

This week USGamer ran a pretty good story mainly centered on why Nintendo has undershipped many of its products recently. The story makes a pretty reasonable case that Nintendo is essentially in austerity mode. It’s not making money the way it was during the Wii and DS era, and thus must cut back on spending. That means smaller shipments for some of its games and much smaller shipments for hardware and accessories. This also means the closing of Club Nintendo apparently, or at least the replacement of it, since much of it was based on shipping physical items people didn’t even buy with real money.

In my experience and maybe even Nintendo’s, the real meat of Club Nintendo was its digital items. Another article from Gamastura shows how much Nintendo’s digital business is climbing. Undershipping titles like Fire Emblem Awakening probably didn’t hurt, but I feel like another big factor has been all Nintendo’s digital promotions. Nintendo’s more desperate deals like offering Pokemon X/Y for free with select games likely got more people invested in the eShop. For me a big part of this was Club Nintendo.

A lot of the Late to the Party posts on this blog are for games I got completely free with Club Nintendo points. For a long time one of the main reasons I turned on my 3DS every day was to play the 1994 Game Boy Donkey Kong, likely one of the best Game Boy games ever that I’d just discovered. Other significant games I first played through Club Nintendo include Super Punch-Out!!Wario Land 2, and even Super Mario Bros. 3. I felt like it was a good loyalty program that led me to some really great games.

Whatever Nintendo comes up with to replace Club Nintendo, it’ll probably have to be digital-focused in order to serve the company’s interests. It won’t be PlayStation Plus or Games With Gold because Nintendo doesn’t like doing the same things Sony and Microsoft do, but it will probably heavily promote eShop. Maybe Nintendo might offer games more substantial than Virtual Console classics — stuff on the level of Pushmo or Mighty Switch Force in future digital promotions. It would also be a good idea for Nintendo to integrate the replacement service into the UI of the 3DS and Wii U. A big weakness for Club Nintendo was how it only existed on a website instead of the place where people actually play Nintendo’s games.

Oh, and when Nintendo finally does get it started, all the coolest stuff will probably still be Japan-only.

BULLETS:

  • Sorry to hear about the final closure of Joystiq. Seems AOL in general is cutting things off.
  • Even more sorry to hear about the passing of Andrew Yoon, whom I mostly remember from Weekend Confirmed.
  • So… that upcoming Law & Order episode. http://t.co/YDv492goFP
  • I had no idea graphing calculators were actually beginning to move forward in technology. http://t.co/blCwtp6KKp You still gotta pay $100 for technology that was introduced in 2004, but the new 2011 model looks slick. I almost want one just because.
  • What NVidia truly thinks about the GTX 970 controversey. https://t.co/7aTaP1ul1O
  • Incredible Dragon Age Inquisition screenshot. http://t.co/mHTBPj6nqz
  • ArmA mods strike again. http://t.co/SfU3v0bENt
  • Kill Screen has an interesting criticism of Elitehttp://t.co/rsWNdm9Yka
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