There's been a lot of buzz about Club Nintendo over the past month. The Big N's customer reward program gives out special Gold and Platinum level rewards each year for customers who register a ton of Nintendo games. In the past, Gold club members have received a calendar and Platinum folks have received some kind of unique Nintendo swag.
When this year's Club Nintendo rewards were unveiled, Gold and Platinum club members discovered that instead of physical reward choices, they could pick between one of several digital game downloads. Unlike prizes from previous years, these games weren't unique rewards. Reaction to this year's offerings was mixed, with some gamers appreciating the free games but others disappointed because they prefer physical prizes or already owned all the games available.
Digital game downloads have even started to dominate the regular Club Nintendo reward selection. Three digital games are available for people to purchase with Club Nintendo coins every month, while the selection of physical rewards has dwindled. This has led some to speculate that Nintendo is switching Club Nintendo over to digital-only rewards, or even that the company could discontinue the entire program in the near future.
I had the chance to chat with Nintendo of Canada's Matt Ryan at a recent press event, and I asked him what he could tell me about the future of Club Nintendo. He said that Nintendo isn't necessarily moving away from offering physical rewards, but that the company believes that free games hold a lot of potential value for club members. Nintendo hasn't been offering digital game rewards for very long, so it's still looking for fan feedback on the issue.
Mr. Ryan also noted that Nintendo has started to offer unique rewards for Club Nintendo members at special events. During a recent Mario Kart 8 event in Toronto, fans who printed out proof of Club Nintendo membership were able to receive a special prize. That's pretty neat, though of course this kind of reward is only accessible to people who are lucky enough to live close to a Nintendo event's location.
I don't personally have a problem with Nintendo offering fewer physical and more digital rewards via Club Nintendo. Getting free games is fun, and I find that decorative bits and bobs just end up cluttering my house. However, if Nintendo offers digital Gold/Platinum rewards next year, I think it should take care to make sure all the options have a similar value. This year, the regular price of the various options ranged from $5 to $20, and that's not very fair to fans who already owned the more expensive games. I also think it's more special if Gold and Platinum rewards are unique items that can't be purchased regularly. That can still be done digitally by offering special games or unique DLC for popular games as Gold and Platinum options.
If you miss getting unique physical rewards for Gold and Platinum status or want to see more physical rewards in the coin shop, it sounds like Nintendo is listening. If you prefer digital games instead, Nintendo wants to know that, too. Why not drop the company a line via social media or a Club Nintendo survey and let it know which kinds of Club Nintendo rewards you value most? It doesn't sound like Club Nintendo is going anywhere, and its future is at least partially up to you.