In case you haven't heard, Nintendo is shutting down Club Nintendo. All games made after today will no longer have codes; March 30th is the last day to enter in any remaining codes, and June 30th is the last day to redeem prizes.
To be honest, it's surprising how I didn't see the closure coming. Launched in 2007, the program was running successfully, to some extent, for the first couple of years, but the North American rewards became scarcer and less noteworthy. For example, last year I wrote of the lack of soundtracks outside of Japan and Europe, something that I absolutely love; furthermore, there are simply so many prizes.
First, let's take a look at prizes avaliable in the PAL region. The website shows a significantly larger selection of items, all of which are higher quality. For example, there are totally-not-useless-at-all Mario golf balls, a Mario Kart 8 Badge Kit, and my personal favorite, a recreation of the Game&Watch game, Ball. Meanwhile, over in Japan, they have too many great prizes for me to even count. A Famicom notebook, shopping bag, an actual rug, two video game soundtracks (including LoZ: A Link to the Past), and an Excitebikes game for the Wii. No, not a digital download. An actual disk.
Compare it to the sad, barren, and disappointing American site, we have two sets of greeting cards, posters, and a downloadable game.
That is literally everything we have. What hurts the most is that there isn't a reason that we get a bare-bones website while everywhere else is fully-stocked with great prizes. The whole point of Club Nintendo is to make you feel like every purchase is worthwhile, giving you reason to buy games beyond simply wanting them.
In the mean time, before the closure, Nintendo will be releasing several new rewards, which is awesome, as a sort of swan song. I think this is a great idea; it gives reason to empty out all the game cases for those codes to pick up some awesome figurines and stuff to deck out your room. They also plan to make a new, hopefully less embarrass loyalty program, which will be announced later in the upcoming months.
What are my hopes of the future of Club Nintendo and the upcoming loyalty program?
I'm really just wishing that they don't screw it up again. The site was quite good for a long time, but chaos ensued when the new Elite status award was not as great as other years. A few years ago, there was a giant, commemorative panorama of Mario characters. What did we get in 2014? Downloadable games. Let me remind you that I only started last year, and put half of my codes in, over the course of five years, because I was psyched about what kind of awesome, upcoming rewards they would offer. Answer: not much. I'm hoping that this is all fixed for the new program, which will hopefully offer some sort of prize system that is actually worthwhile.
In the end, though, let's just hope that everything won't be screwed up and that the new prizes next month will temporarily return Club Nintendo to the shining glory it once was.