Goodnight, sweet prince.
RIP Club Nintendo.
Since 2008, Nintendo has been collecting demographic information from willing fans, for better or worse. The program had been uniquely run by each Nintendo territory to better serve various demographics (or better put, to better serve each Nintendo territory). We here in fandom-land would look forward to things such as Luigi statues and Mario hats, while Nintendo received "free" information to better make business decisions. For all our complaints, it was a service we enjoyed. So now what?
The writing was on the wall for some time. Japan announced it was ending earlier in 2014, while the North American shop had been largely stripped of its physical rewards, including the first "digital-only" reward tier system for Gold and Platinum account holders. But with Nintendo trending upwards after a strong holiday season, and with shipping costs in most territories brought down to an all time low in the program's six year existence, why now? Why close down a good thing?
Well, it's simple.
Nothing has been announced, but I don't think one need cry wolf to suggest this is Nintendo's way of beginning a unified account system across all its systems.
During the last Nintendo direct, Nintendo announced their new Mario VS. Donkey Kong game would be the first title to support cross system integration. That is, download the title for either your 3DS or Wii U, and you can download and play it on the other device for free.
Now here, a few days later, Nintendo has announced that their highly successful data mongering, never cheaper to run program is set to unceremoniously cease across all territories by year's half end. And to add to the intrigue, Nintendo promises it will be replaced with a brand new (but presumably somehow different) loyalty program.
A unified account system can mine personal information just the same as Club Nintendo, and could potentially, again for better or for worse, eliminate the "swag" element and save Nintendo money while still accounting for loyalty rewards, such as membership perks and digital games. Or perhaps the physical rewards remain, but regardless, it still eliminates the problem of signing into a completely separate website with a completely separate ID.
It makes too much sense.
I'm going to miss my Club Nintendo account, but I'll trade in my seven platinum awards for the death of friend codes and the beginning of a more unified account system without even flinching.
Long live Club Nintendo.
Alan is a grad student studying the psychology of creativity in southern California. He can't wait to have "KingDeDongDong is online" pop up while Smashing.