Club Nintendo is Growing Stagnant

The latest batch of games has hit Club Nintendo, but sadly we continue to see no sign of any new, physical offerings. While the ability to use coins to buy games was a welcome addition, the apparent sacrifice of lovable Nintendo trinkets leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many ardent fans. Nintendo needs to start sharing the love again.

To be fair, it’s not like Nintendo is required to give fans any sort of goodies simply by virtue of being consumers. Buying milk and bread doesn’t net anyone free t-shirts from Safeway, after all, On the other hand, if one looks at the wealth of freebies that Club Nintendo fans in Japan have been spoiled with for years now, the disparity begins to grow clear. Club Nintendo fans in the USA are second class citizens.

Anyone who’s been vying for a stateside release of Mother 3 for years could say the same thing, but the Club Nintendo gap is almost alarming in its scope. Character-themed controllers, statues, pouches, figures, t-shirts, pins, and a million other spectacular prizes have come and gone in the East while we in the West have had to make due with paper folders and playing cards. It’s understandable that Nintendo would be most generous to its home audience, but don’t fans everywhere else deserve some respect, too?

As someone who has plunked countless dollars into my collection, I consider myself the exact sort of consumer that Nintendo wishes all of its customers were. I buy all the games, systems, and memorabilia that I can get my hands on, fill out the surveys, and otherwise do my best to show support. “It’s a corporation and corporations don’t love anyone” aside, I take pride in being a Nintendo fan, and would like to think I’m worth more to them than a Kirby iron-on patch.

Being realistic, obviously there’s a huge difference in the population counts between Japan and the US, so that might factor into the selection of goods that are on offer in each respective Club NIntendo. Regardless, let’s start to see some variety. Even if I can’t get a SNES replica Classic Controller, can’t we get some new patterns on the stationary cards? How about some figures, or (dare I say it) stickers? There was a point when the US Club Nintendo had some fairly cool things to strive for, but lately it’s been as barren as a flea market stall at sundown. It’s a real shame, because Club Nintendo is a great selling point.

Consumers appreciate feeling like they’re more than a dollar sign (or a mark) to a corporation, especially one that’s as endearing as Nintendo. No one cares if Toyota gives away Prius plushies, because their products don’t create the same emotional resonance as Nintendo’s battalion of characters and games. When people find out that their purchases can net them exclusive gear from Nintendo, it makes them happy. I got my cousins hooked on Club Nintendo once I explained how it works. It just takes some effort, Nintendo. The Directs are great, but there really just isn’t enough communication between Nintendo and fans. Putting cool stuff back into Club Nintendo would be a great place to start, especially if Nintendo chats it up. Now get me a gold Mario statue!

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