Dear Nintendo of America,
So you’ve decided to discontinue Club Nintendo. Not only that, but you didn’t even have the guts to tell us to our faces. Rather than sending out a mass e-mail at a reasonable time, which would have been the decent and classy thing to do, you snuck an announcement onto your website in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. So I found out the news secondhand, from a Twitter newsfeed. That’s bush league, Nintendo, that I had to find out that way. I feel like I’m back in 8th grade, when my girlfriend broke up with me during lunch by sending her second-best friend over to my table to tell me.
I can’t say I’m really surprised the program is being discontinued in favor of a new loyalty program, because all we – the fans – have done for the last two or three years is complain about how poorly excecuted Club Nintendo has been. In fairness to us though, you did handle Club Nintendo EXTREMELY poorly. 95% of the physical rewards that you offers us were garbage. Greeting cards! Shoelaces! Calendars! It was like walking down my least favorite aisle in the supermarket, except everything was Nintendo-themed. My bank offers better rewards for signing up for a checking account than most of the stuff you offered us, and that checking account was free, as opposed to having to spend a minimum of six hundred dollars and complete post-play surveys to get any of the better prizes you’ve offered.
But I get it. Club Nintendo is expensive to run. At least, it was when you still deemed us worthy of receiving bonus gifts other than posters and game cases. And I don’t mean to get sidetracked here, but posters? Seriously? For 700 freaking coins? We used to get posters for free inside our NES and SNES boxes. Anyway, It’s pretty obvious that the cheap, ugly paper prizes were a result of expense-cutting; the more recent emphasis on digital prizes was clearly a result of this too. Still, one has to wonder… why not just shift entirely to digital prizes? Sure, we’d probably complain about it, but we’d eventually come around and concede it was better than nothing. Are the extra few pennies you’re saving on each game box by not packing Club Nintendo codes into them really worth the dissolution of the whole program? If you’re that hard up for money, why don’t you just print more Amiibos? That would be a much more consumer-friendly way to make money. But I suspect you are planning to go back to the Old Ways, which is to say, game-specific deals. We’ve already seen a hint of this with recent promotions such as the free soundtrack and DLC for registering both versions of Smash Bros., or the free digital game download for registering Mario Kart 8. And that’s fine, I guess. From a business standpoint, it seems a little dumb. With the exception of a Shin Megami Tensei 4/Fire Emblem: Awakening promotion, all of these bonus deals have been tied into Nintendo’s biggest franchises, aka The Stuff Everyone Was Going To Buy Anyway. The current model rewards players for buying lesser titles like Wii Play and Spirit Camera, and in doing so encourages players to be more adventurous in their gaming purchases.
But that’s not my biggest problem with your announcement, Nintendo. Here’s my biggest problem with your announcement:
Information will not carry over? I mean, I never expected my Coins to carry over, as I am being given ample time to spend them. Obviously you just mean my Coins, right? Wrong.
So the accounts will be deleted, along with my registration history. I have a HUGE problem with this. First off, Club Nintendo is the only way that you track our digital purchases. So if my Wii U or 3DS is lost or damaged beyond repair, this is the only way to prove what games I bought, and the only chance I have at getting my purchases reinstated on the new hardware. Of course, I’ll still have to call your customer service line and beg them to do so. Your official (and embarrassingly anti-consumer) policy in the case of damages and theft is “too bad, buy the games” again. In your defense, you are well-documented to have reissued downloads to people who are willing to spend a couple hours on the phone with you. Then again, you are also well-documented to have sent new or reformatted gaming devices to people who sent their systems to you for your horrendously overpriced repairs SPECIFICALLY to keep their game library and save files intact. So there’s that. But as awful as that is, there’s even more important stuff at stake than mere money.
Although Club Nintendo didn’t launch until 2009, my Club Nintendo account is listed as being active since October 2003, because that is when I joined the now-defunct Nintendo Nsider Forums. When Club Nintendo launched in 2009, it piggybacked off the Nsider forums. Prior to the launch of Club Nintendo, you guys had run a couple of special of production registration promos. One of these promotions was a giveaway of the super awesome and exclusive Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition for Gamecube, which included four Zelda games: both NES games and both N64 games, including Ocarina’s Master Quest. I took advantage of this promotion on December 26, 2003. I registered my GBA SP, my GCN, Mario Kart: Double Dash, and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga to qualify. How do I know what I registered and when? Because I can see it in my Club Nintendo history.
As someone who can trace the lineage of his Club Nintendo account back twelve years, I would like you to know that I have grown quite attached to it. It is a source of great pride for me. Over the course of 6 years, I have earned a total of 7070 coins thus far, of which I have spent 5500. So, to say that I am a loyal consumer would be a bit of understatement. As I would like to say the following thing to you. Call it a request, a plea, a demand, a threat, whatever. But whatever you call it, I suggest that you heed my advice. And my advice is as follows…
Whatever your new loyalty program is, it should be built on the bones of Club Nintendo, just like how Club Nintendo was built on the bones of Nsider. It should not, under any circumstances, be built from the ground up. I have worked too hard and too long building up the prestige of my Club Nintendo account to suddenly find myself on equal footing with everyone else. That is not only unfair, it is downright deplorable. I am NOT on equal footing with everyone else. I have been a Platinum-ranked member of Club Nintendo every year since 2009. On July 1, 2015, you better have registration for your new loyalty program ready to go, and those of us who had Club Nintendo accounts damn well better be able to import our histories into the new program.
Nintendo, you are a company that many of us love for one reason: longevity. You have an amazing cache of long-running franchises that are just as fun today as they were twenty, twenty-five, even thirty years ago. And here’s the thing. Here’s my main point. Here’s the sound bite that you can take home with you from this whole TL;DR affair:
As a company that milks its own history for every last cent that its worth, you have absolutely no right to erase MY history.
To do so would be exceedingly hypocritical of you. To do so just might be the straw that finally breaks my allegiance to you. I have stuck with your company through a litany of bad business decisions including but not limited to: your backwards work-in-progress strategy for online gaming, your adoption of full-sized game discs two full generations too late, your failure to aggressively court third party developers at any point over the last four generations, your failure to aggressively push for game engine support on your platforms, your poorly designed N64 analog sticks, and the original 3DS models which are so poorly designed that they all eventually scratch the ever-living hell out of their own top screens. Heck, I’ve already convinced myself to buy a New 3DS, even though your failure to include a charger means that I can’t trade in my old 3DS to help finance it. But enough is enough. I am neither prepared nor willing to give up a login that I’ve had for twelve years. That is an awful thing to ask of me. I deserve to have my past accomplishments carry over in some way or other, even if it is just badges in my Account History on the new site denoting my past Club Nintendo participation. Oh hey, that’s another bad decision you made: failure to include a unified trophy/achievement/accomplishment system on the Wii U even though developers and gamers have made it clear that they enjoy such things. But back to linking our Club Nintendo product histories and reward histories to your new loyalty program. I know it would be playing against type, but just this once, do you think you could actually listen to the fans? I promise not to tell if you don’t. Oh, and if you’re wondering why you should consider listening to me, I’ve including my credentials below. Have a nice day.