Almost all avid Nintendo gamers will know about Club Nintendo, the customer loyalty program for Nintendo, and I bet most of you have registered there. Having 3 different region 3DS’s myself, I registered at Nintendo Europe, but also in the American and Japanese Club Nintendo. I try to keep up to date with registering my games, with answering surveys that come my way and sometimes I even go into the catalogue, to see what special items are available to buy with my coins or stars. What surprised me at first though is that all three Club Nintendo’s are different from each other. The layout is different, the reward currency is different, and much more important, the items that you can purchase with your currency differs. Time for some research!
Europe launched its VIP 24:7 club in 2002, so surprisingly (at least to me) it was the first one. Like in the Japanese version the currency is points (or star points) and you get them for registering Nintendo games plus for some third developer games, as well as for providing feedback on the games you played. It has the reputation of having the least desirable items, which is easily explained as Europe was often the last region to get new games. By the time a game is released in Europe, items were often already available elsewhere on the internet. At the release of the Wii, the VIP 24:7 club was re-named Club Nintendo and adopted the Japanese logo too. In the first years I used my stars to buy Wii Points to be spent in the Wii Shop Channel, which was quite nice. I was able to download quite some games that way. Nowadays that option is no more though.
Club Nintendo Japan opened its doors in 2003 and it was the first to officially carry that name. It has the coolest items available for its members. For instance, in the Year of Luigi, it had very cool collectibles available for those members with enough points. I was surprised to read that the American Club Nintendo was the last one to open its doors (with Australia only a couple of months before that). I’ve read that the perception was that the cost of manufacturing the items and distributing them would be too high because of the size of the country. But at last, late 2008, the website was born. As thousands of fans were visiting the site in hopes of registering their products to receive free gifts, Nintendo had to shut the service down to work on the problems that followed, and later re-opened the site. The American Club is different too in that they still have gold or platinum memberships with exclusive gifts to match that. It’s all tied in with how many coins you collect during the course of a year. Lately however the number of exclusive must haves has dwindled, and most of the time downloadable content is offered. The Japanese Club had this distinction in gold and platinum too, but as from this year, all members are offered the same rewards.
Although technically one can’t have a Club Nintendo account in the US or in Japan when you don’t live there, I have to confess that I do have them. I try to diligently register my games and take survey’s for all three, though I can imagine that my feedback in the Japanese survey’s baffles the data analists: no idea what I’m saying in my answers, as I can’t read it. It’s more a matter of taking a multiple choice and blindly picking one. I haven’t tried to get rewards in those two stores either, as I can’t have it sent to my home. Downloadable items are fine for me of course, though I know a lot of fans are disappointed at the download-only items that are on offer. The European Club Nintendo has served me well in the past however. I have a nice red charging cradle for my XL, and I got a very cool Pikmin keyring too. In the past being one of the first to register my new 3DS console or a game got me some great collectables too, like the 3DS T-shirt, the Zelda soundtrack and the Paper Mario sticker book. So, I’m going to keep putting my codes in and dutifully help Nintendo with my surveys. At least, I’m helping Nintendo Europe and America with understandable answers!
Registered as well, but I feel the downloadable rewards are meh on the Nintendo handheld. My opinion.
I’ve heard more people comment on that, and I surely think that the US Club has more downloadable content nowadays then real collectibles. The European store does offer nice specials from time to time though.
Sadly, there is no Club Nintendo over here in Brazil. I wish I had access to all those neat prizes.
I didn’t know that! But, can’t you register with a foreign Club Nintendo, or don’t you get any register codes either with the game?
I do get the codes, but I cannot register them.
The club will tell me it is not available in my country.
Oh that’s such a pity!