Nintendo has just announced this year’s for members of their Club Nintendo rewards program who reached either Gold or Platinum status. By redeeming codes included with consoles and first party (and some third party) Nintendo games or by purchasing games in the eShop, members are granted coins they can redeem for items. Besides getting the prizes themselves, those who reach a certain coin threshold — 300 for Gold and 600 for Platinum — also receive a yearly gift free of charge. The program started off impressively giving Platinum members a Mario statue, but has devolved from there all the way up until last year’s lame offering of a CD soundtrack. Things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse, but Nintendo has today proven that they certainly can.
So how does the company reward its loyal customers this year? With a free digital game. First off, that’s not the spirit of the entire program to begin with. The original intention was to reward the faithful with exclusive merchandise that can’t be had anywhere else. A digital game is the antithesis of that. Honestly, though, we’d be willing to give them a pass if they were offering up quality retail games — Pokemon X & Y, Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and Yoshi’s New Island would all have been viable candidates. Instead, however, they’ve seemed to have scraped the proverbial bottom of the eShop barrel to reward fans.
The only retail/full games in the entire offering are Game & Wario and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Game & Wario is a terrible game that can be had for under twenty dollars, and while Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is great, it can also be had for twenty dollars and is an over a year old port of a nearly four year old game. Certainly not the cream of the crop. Other games include Earthbound, NES Remix, Dr. Luigi and Fluidity Spin Cycle. All (mostly) quality games, but all games well under twenty dollars that most people probably already have who want them.
And believe it or not, these are the Platinum-exclusive awards. Those who merely attained Gold get one of eight NES/Game Boy 3DS/Wii U Virtual Console ports that retail for under five dollars and have been available for at least one year.
Now before you start rabble-rousing, I get the point that Nintendo doesn’t have to do this at all and these are gifts. However, they’re not gifts out of the goodness of their heart. They’re gifts to reward people for spending copious amounts of money on their products. To reach Platinum status, you’d need to spend around $500. For that kind of loyalty, a major company like Nintendo should be giving more than a sub-twenty dollar game in return.
With hardly any store items in stock and an insulting display of gifts, at this point it would be best to shut down the program altogether. Year after year, people go out of their way to buy enough Nintendo products to reach Platinum status, and when all it gets them in return is a pitiful display of rewards, it becomes a dishonest practice to goad consumers into buying your products.