If you’ve owned a Nintendo system over the past five to ten years, you’re probably familiar with Nintendo’s loyalty/rewards program, Club Nintendo. The whole thing was very, well, charming and Nintendo-ey – every piece of hardware and software you bought rewarded you with coins, and you could trade them in for nicely made notebooks, tote bags, hats, posters etc. featuring Mario, Link and the rest of the Nintendo crew. There were sometimes even exclusive games and hardware made available through the service. Some of my most treasured bits of gaming memorabilia have come from Club Nintendo.
The things I had to do to earn this baby.
Unfortunately, Club Nintendo has been on the decline for a while, replacing a lot of their cool, physical gifts with less special-feeling digital game downloads, and now Nintendo has announced they’re shutting the service down. You’ll still be able to redeem coins until the end of March, and then you’ll have until June 30th to spend them, at which point Club Nintendo goes away for good. Nintendo is promising to add new physical rewards and game downloads over the coming months so fans will actually have something to spend their coins on, and they’re also giving away Flipnote Studio 3D for the 3DS free to all members of Club Nintendo.
Nintendo is planning a new loyalty program, but I have a feeling it won’t be as unique as Club Nintendo was. If I had to guess, it will probably just offer up straightforward Nintendo eShop coupons and discounts – really, the era of loyalty programs that actually mailed you physical prizes was already over when Nintendo started Club Nintendo, so I guess we should be glad for the few years worth of goodies we got.