Nintendo’s New ‘Rewards’ Program is Pretty Bogus. Here’s a Way to Fix It.


Nintendo Rewards

Nintendo’s built up quite a lot of good will among gamers in the last year with the Nintendo switch. Zelda, Mario Kart, Splatoon 2, Mario Odyssey, and countless quality indies – sorry, Nindies, have graced the little hybrid that could.

However, fans are feeling a little – ha – short changed regarding the newest update to Nintendo’s rewards program. That change? Finally allowing players to use Gold Coins (which are earned from purchasing and registering Nintendo games) to get discounts on eShop titles.

Surely this is good news, if you buy a lot, you’d assume you’d eventually be able to get something for free, or deeply discounted. For example if you’re a member of Microsoft’s rewards program you’ll find 5-10 dollars randomly in your account balance, and even more if you choose to use ‘Bing’ as your search engine.

Alas, the rewards program for The Switch is currently so poor that simply not having one would have likely been a better move. Speaking personally, I’ve bought Zelda, Mario, Golf Story, Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and a few other, smaller titles. My grand total discount on my next eshop purchase? 160 gold coins, for a walloping discount of $1.60 on my next purchase in the eShop. Not great.

Anyone else suddenly concerned about the value the forthcoming Nintendo online service will bring?

CNET did a great breakdown of the math of the rewards system: On Monday Nintendo updated the system to let you use points to actually get free games from the Nintendo Switch eShop. That sounds great, but the exchange rate is terrible — a My Nintendo gold point is worth about $0.01 USD, which means you’ll need 5,999 points to buy a single full-price Nintendo Switch game.

So when it is said Nintendo made a change to the rewards program, that is literally what is meant. You get change – in my case, 6 quarters and a dime. When you consider the program Nintendo rolled out when they launched the 3DS – offering early adopters a bunch of free games, a paltry 1.60 back on over a hundred dollars worth of Switch purchases feels like a blue shell to the ole coin purse.

Nintendo is being characteristically stingy regarding their new console; rarely are their deep sales on current games, and for that matter, if you look at the company as a whole, they (or the developers) are charging full price for some old games – Doom and Skyrim both rolled in at a price tag over 50 dollars. As did L.A Noire.

It’s possible Nintendo is trying to maintain the integrity of its brand – and brand new console, by charging top dollar for just about everything; weary of being viewed as a Shovelware platform and at devaluing their IP, and the IPs of the developers they partner with – meaning they’d rather be super pricey and ‘premium’ then be viewed as a B-tier system – as happened with The Wii U late in its cycle.

So how does Nintendo reward its players and maintain its ‘premium’ status? Good question.

Answer? Freebies for frequent buyers. Dump coins, dump percentages. Treat the entirety of the rewards system like a Subway Sandwhich punch card; with cash-outs along the way.

If you’re a low-spender, offer coupons for gamers who spend $100 on Nintendo titles to get give players incentive them to spend more – 10-20 percent off any eShop game once you hit that $100 mark.

If the player thinks they’re going to spend $200, they can bypass the $100 option and instead opt for any 9.99 eShop game *or* receive a 9.99 off coupon for their next purchase of a Nintendo eShop game.

350? $20 off. 450? $50 off.

I hovered well over 200 dollars last year, which would entitle me at-the-least to a 10 dollar game I would not have bought otherwise.

Are these rewards insanely good? No. But they’re serviceable and simple and reward the players using Nintendo platforms the most – which is the *point* of a loyalty program.

Please, correct me on what would be more appropriate numbers. I am all ears.

For what it is worth, Nintendo’s current President, Tatsumi Kimishima, is first-and-foremost a business man. He has worked for 27 years in the banking industry. Given the reigns of Nintendo at a time when the company was on the ropes; it’s possible limit on proverbial freebies was a direct result of his business acumen; following the basic mantra of “if you’re good at something, don’t do it for free”.

And while that’s a fair notion, it’s also a little frustrating to have your customer loyalty rewarded via a program that may just make you spend your hard earned money elsewhere.