Keeping track of your Nintendo rewards used to be a fun way to earn all sorts of goodies by purchasing Nintendo systems and games, but those days are long gone.
My Nintendo, the points-based platform that replaced Club Nintendo 12 months ago, has done little to prove its value to Nintendo players and shoppers. What My Nintendo’s done instead is make us nostalgic for the physical gifts offered by the older rewards program, Club Nintendo — and frustrated by its replacement’s paltry offerings.
My Nintendo awards players two kinds of points, platinum and gold, for playing Nintendo games, using the company’s services and buying physical and digital products. That’s all typical stuff, and getting the points is easy enough. Mobile games give out platinum points quickly, for instance, while getting gold points is as easy as buying games.
But Club Nintendo used to offer rewards that actually were valuable in a tangible sense: There were rare tchotchkes exclusive to Club Nintendo members, including things like wallets, postcards and calendars, alongside games you could “buy” with your points. Even if it took spending hundreds of dollars on games to earn enough points for that Animal Crossing-themed 3DS pouch, by the end of it, you had a real life Animal Crossing 3DS pouch, dammit. The items were relatively rare, and they were often pretty cool.
That’s a meaningful thing to anyone who doesn’t have the privilege to live a quick subway ride away from Nintendo NY, the company’s only dedicated physical retailer in the U.S. For Nintendo fans across the country — and world — finding well-crafted products with characters from series like Metroid, Star Fox and Pikmin is almost impossible. Club Nintendo changed that, asking only for continued, demonstrated brand loyalty in return. The rewards could often only be purchased through the Club Nintendo system, making the act of collecting points feel actively rewarding.
By comparison, My Nintendo offers almost nothing meaningful to an allegiant Nintendo lover. The rewards are still paltry a year after launch. When the program started, the most enticing offers were 15 percent off coupons for old Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games. Club Nintendo’s hanafuda cards and handkerchiefs seemed like a spoil of riches by comparison.
Nintendo is launching Nintendo Switch-based rewards for the service soon, but until then the most exciting update has been ... wallpapers. Yep, people are asked to spend My Nintendo points on glossy pictures of Mario and Snipperclips characters.
It’s disappointing, and not just because Nintendo has groomed us to feel entitled to much cooler swag. My Nintendo reeks of the same unfinished stink that emanates from the Nintendo Switch and mobile games like Miitomo. Nintendo used to be the company that launched finished, polished products. Now it seems like the strategy is often to just throw something out there and see how it does. Nintendo is once again trying to build a paraglider after it has thrown itself off the cliff. The result for anyone who was there for the Club Nintendo days is disappointment.
Club Nintendo had some really, really cool stuff on offer, and that spirit is now gone. Look at this stuff!
Using Club Nintendo felt like a game — in a slightly twisted way — to register more Nintendo products and gather up enough coins to qualify for the fancier products. That game required us giving up more big bucks to Nintendo, but it felt like a win-win for us all. You were buying these games anyway if you were a Nintendo fan, which made the free copy of Game and Watch Collection you could earn feel like a delightful bonus.
The My Nintendo game, by comparison, makes a loser out of all of us. We don’t want coupons; we want rewards, and Nintendo has taken a huge step down with the “new” program.