Tag Archives: Thought Bubble


Thought Bubble: Club Nintendo’s Regifting Problem

July 25, 2014


Club Nintendo works like this: every console or Nintendo-published game comes with a code. Register that code to your account and you get a set number of coins. You can exchange those coins for cool rewards like digital game downloads and exclusive items with a limited print run, including Kirby stickers, gold Wii Nunchucks, or a gorgeous set of traditional Hanafuda playing cards hearkening back to the time before Nintendo made video games.

So when Nintendo announced their end-of-year prizes for Club Nintendo members this week, some fans were disappointed to learn that the free loyalty rewards were downloadable games instead of the unique prizes offered in the past.

Many club members already have several – or even all – of the games offered as rewards. Club members receive a free gift if they accumulate 300 coins, or a Platinum gift for 600. Games are worth 10 to 50 coins depending on retail price, so it’ll probably take a few hundred dollars’ worth of Nintendo purchases to reach the coveted Platinum level.

If you manage to accumulate that many coins, it’s quite likely you’ve already bought all or most of the games on the list (or at least the ones you wanted). Congratulations. Your end-of-year prize is your second choice from six months ago.

In the past, the advantage of Club Nintendo was that the awards weren’t just free products. I’ve been a member since 2008, when it launched in North America (it debuted in Japan five years prior to that). Over the years I’ve exchanged my coins for digital games, as well as some nice year-end gifts. I usually end up with a small Nintendo-themed calendar. Last year, I received a great soundtrack from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

Those Nintendo calendars aren’t revolutionary, but they were just for members, like the old mail-order toys you would get from exchanging the points you clipped out of Kool-Aid packets. The toys or prizes you got were often kind of weird – that Wonder Bread He-Man was particularly strange – but you were the only one that had it.

Making digital games the sole reward yet again shines a light on Nintendo’s lackluster digital games service as a whole. If I’ve spent three hundred dollars to get a $3.99 copy of Metroid, I’d sure as hell like to be able to play it on every Nintendo device I own instead of just the 3DS.

Meanwhile, the gifts for Club Nintendo Japan have drawn frothing growls of jealousy from fans stateside (or province-side, I guess). They manage to out-do the North American prizes in every way, ranging from classy (Super Mario 3D World soundtrack CD) to wacky (Super Mario-themed packing tape) to fan-service (check out that Yoshi plushie!).

Only in Japan

Only in Japan

Measured against similar subscription services such as PlayStation Plus – which offers members free games every month – there’s a startling gulf when looking at Club Nintendo’s “pick one” approach for the year, even if it’s not an entirely fair comparison. Club Nintendo demands a bit more of your time and metadata (filling our surveys and personal reviews gives you extra points), and is separate from other services like online multiplayer.

Still, longtime fans are bound to feel disappointed if they’ve been members in prior years when Nintendo offered something more special as a reward. Exclusive prizes may not mean a lot in the long run, but they had a VIP feel, as though you were finally getting your ring from the Stonecutters.

This year, you’ve won a retail product in exchange for buying hundreds of dollars’ worth of retail products. “Thank you for your loyalty,” the Nintendo’s prize page reads. The “L” word stings more than it really should.

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Thought Bubble: Who Watches the Watch Dogs?

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Thought Bubble: This is Snake

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Thought Bubble: How Nintendo won E3

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Thought Bubble: Amazon Acquires ComiXology

By Heather Knight
April 15, 2014

Once the ComiXology brand is linked with Amazon, a retailer like Heather Knight fears the worst. Here’s why. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: What’s Really Wrong with Film Criticism?

March 28, 2014

Earlier this week IndieWire offshoot CriticWire asked a bunch of noted film critics if film writers should talk about the form of a film more often than they already do. It sparked a heavily tweeted, debated, and written about impassioned response, but what about the role of the reader and average moviegoer in film criticism and what is the biggest problem facing film writing today? Our Film editor shares his thoughts. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Intersecting Kink and Games

November 20, 2013

Soha examines some of the problems with depictions of kink in mainstream video games and explains what we can do to fix them. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Pokemon Is Still The Master

By Megan Patterson
October 17, 2013

After witnessing a launch event for Pokémon X/Y packed with fans young and old, Megan looks at why the series has endured for more than 15 years. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Gaming’s Industry Problem

October 10, 2013

After a misgendering incident at the Eurogamer Expo in London, and the ensuing backlash on Twitter, Soha El-Sabaawi argues that gaming has a long way to go before it can be considered a safe space for trans* people aspiring to be a part of the community. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Rage Against the (Steam) Machine

October 4, 2013

Eric explains why Valve’s trio of new announcements – Steam Machines, Steam OS and the Steam Controller – might not live up to expectations of reinventing the video game console landscape. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Shut Up About Batfleck

August 25, 2013

Our Film and Performing Arts Editor is tired of everyone asking him his thoughts on Ben Affleck getting cast as Batman in the forthcoming Batman Vs. Superman film and here are 9 reasons why. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Sony’s Irrelevant E3 Victory

June 27, 2013

The verdict is in. Sony won, Microsoft lost, Nintendo stayed the course and we can all go home because Jack Tretton dropped the microphone. If only it were that simple. Continue reading

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Apple vs. Saga vs. Comixology?

April 10, 2013

Comixology quietly removes Saga #12 from the iOS app store for offensive content; two postage-stamp sized images of gay sex. Apple gets the blame. What’s all the fuss about? Continue reading

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Thought Bubble:
We are artists
(so let’s start talking like it!)

By Navid Khavari
April 9, 2013

Are video games art? Yes. Should we move on? Yes. A guest editorial from Ubisoft Toronto narrative designer Navid Khavari. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: A Gamer’s Thank You to Roger Ebert

April 5, 2013

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Thought Bubble: God of War: Ascension

April 3, 2013

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Thought Bubble: A Eulogy for Silicon Knights

January 30, 2013

R.I.P. Silicon Knights — a writer’s reasons for taking the funeral approach with the troubled Ontario game studio. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble:
I’m No Comic Expert

January 24, 2013

And that’s OK. Let’s stop punishing new fans for loving the same things we do! Continue reading

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