PIXEL BURN – Club Nintendo RIP

In which Matt pays a loving, sentimental, not-at-all-snarky tribute to the late Club Nintendo.
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Hello my name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I take a sarcastic look at the more important, interesting or irritating things to have happened in the week’s gaming news.

Starting with the sad passing of Club Nintendo, which died this week. Well it’s not quite dead. Nintendo confirmed fans still have until June 30th to spend all their soon-to-be-useless “Loyalty Coins,” whereupon they’ll finally pull the plug and let Club Nintendo die for good with what little dignity it has left.

Now when someone dies its common practise for newpapers and TV news to run pre-prepared obituaries created in advance. That might sound morbid but its just the way the world works I’m afraid. So with that in mind, and because I’m a forward-thinking kind of bloke, I’m going to play this pre-prepared obituary for you while I go get a cup of tea.

Right, let’s get this started. Shit, hang on a second. I can’t believe I recorded over an episode of POB for this. Ah ha, here we go!

Born Club Nintendo, Club Nintendo was widely regarded as a confused, bumbling shambles through which Nintendo fans, after spending hundreds of dollars on games and hardware, could receive the kind of gaudy underwhelming knick-knacks that even Stuart Ashen would be too embarassed to review. It’s critics were less-generous, calling it a half-formed crawling abortion that – in a kinder, more civilised age – would be left on a remote hillside to be eaten by feral dogs.

The way the scheme worked – besides “badly” – is that with every Nintendo game and system you bought you would receive a special code. After entering this code into the Club Nintendo site and completing a mandatory survey, you would receive “Loyalty Coins” that could be exchanged for prizes. If you were European or Japanese you got “Loyalty Stars” instead, which were incompatible with the US store and vice versa. Because god forbid the whole sorry fucking system have any semblance of consistency.

Some of the prizes available: after you forked out enough real money to feed a Somalian village, included a Mario pencil case, a reversible pouch with Mario on it, Mario desktop wallpaper, Mario badges, Mario-themed gift wrap, and towels – with Mario on them. Proving beyond all doubt that Nintendo fans will buy literally anything with a fat Italian plumber on it.

Some fans argued that not all the prizes were terrible and some were actually rather good. These fans were predominantly Japanese, as the available prizes varied from country to country and all the best stuff was exclusive to Japan. So while Europeans and Americans were left with lanyards, cheap kites and Mario-themed “Sensu” fans, Japanese Club Nintendo members could enjoy lavishly-produced Hanafuda cards, handbags and an exclusive classic SNES Controller for the Wii.
The “best” prizes, like badges, were restricted to Gold and Platinum Club Nintendo members, and to achieve this rank you had to earn 300 coins or the same value in stars over a twelve-month period. The equivalent to buying three Wii’s, five copies of Bayonetta 2, or sixty copies of Gravity Badgers. After that you then had to pray to the cold, godless universe we live in that the item you wanted wasn’t already sold out, as the so-called “Elite” items were so limited in stock they might as well have been made from fucking unobtanium.

Towards the end of its life, in a last-ditch attempt to appear even slightly worthwhile, Club Nintendo went digital, offering downloads of Virtual console games such as Paper Mario, Super Mario 64, Mario Tennis, Mario Kart 64, Dr Mario Express, Mario Picross and other games with Mario in them. Some described this as shameless pandering to childhood nostalgia while others considered it the final desperate floundering of a reward scheme dying on its arse. Critics were less kind, loudly speculating about when Nintendo would do an “Old Yeller” and put the wretched thing out of its misery for good.

Public reaction to the news of Club Nintendo’s death ranged from the mostly indifferent to the gleefully cheerful. The exception of course was die-hard Nintendo fans, so hopelessly indoctrinated they’d give their life savings for a semen-encrusted sock puppet if you stuck a red hat and a moustache on it.

Global leaders and prominent public figures also gave their reactions to the death of Club Nintendo.

It was Club Nintendo’s increasingly confused and erratic behaviour that led to its tragic death. One evening at Nintendo’s headquarters in Kyoto, Club Nintendo shambled into a cleaning cupboard where it drank its entire body-weight in bleach before fatally shitting its guts out. It leaves a legacy of crushing disappointment, a string of apathetic gaming news articles, and people scrabbling to spend all their coins before they go from being practically useless to literally useless.

Club Nintendo, who died today.

In other news, Bethesda announced this week that The Elder Scrolls Online, it’s stumbling misstep into the MMO genre, is dropping it’s monthly subscription fee from March and going “buy-to-play” similar to Guild Wars 2.

A development that absolutely nobody saw coming, apart from everyone who doesn’t live on the dark side of The Fucking Moon. For everybody here on planet Earth it was so obvious and inevitable that had it been a giant asteroid hurtling directly towards the earth, we’d have all killed ourselves months ago.

One reason for this decision likely has to do with the forthcoming Xbox One and PS4 versions due out in June, an entire year after they were originally meant to be released. By lowering the barrier for entry Bethesda can attract more of the many console fans of the series, who were either put-off from paying a monthly fee or didn’t want to play it on last-generation hardware.

Another more obvious reason has to do with the changing state of the MMO market. Subscription-based MMOs simply aren’t as profitable as they were five years ago, when Elder Scrolls Online was already two years into development. Since then many existing MMOs either made the leap to free-to-play, like DC Universe Online, or chose to stick with a buy-to-play model like Guild Wars 2. So when Elder Scrolls Online launched in April of 2014 it was already beginning to look like a relic of a bygone age, on the pricing structure alone.

That’s not to say the game was a complete crashing failure. By October of last year Elder Scrolls Online reportedly had a respectable, if not entirely earth-shaking 1.2 million subscribers, though it’s doubtful they’ll all stay-on as Premium Members once the game drops its mandatory monthly subscription. And when you consider Skyrim had shifted 20 million copies on consoles as of June 2013, it makes sense for Bethesda to lower the barrier for entry.

You can still pay a monthly fee if you want to though. People with paid subscriptions will get upgraded to a “Premium membership” giving them access to in-game bonuses, unbridled access to DLC expansions, and a monthly stipend of special in-game currency to spend on costumes, mounts and convenience items at a new Customisation Store. Freeloaders on the other hand will have to pay seperately for the expansions and generally shamble around looking like grubby peasants in comparison to their shining premium brethren.

Staying on the subject of vast fantastical worlds, BioWare released details on the upcoming 1.03 patch for the PC version of Dragon Age Inquisition. In addition to fixing a number of bugs – of which there are many – and adding a key that lets you walk, instead of jogging everywhere like a crazed fantasy fitness fanatic, it also tweaks your party member’s banter to make those long, awkward silences out on the road a lot less long, awkward and silent.

One thing it doesn’t fix however are the god-awful atrocious loading times, which has been pretty much the sole reason I haven’t touched the game since Christmas. So I completed Far Cry 4 and Shadow of Mordor instead.

To call Dragon Age Inquisition’s loading times a bit long is like saying the inevitable heat death of the universe isn’t going to happen for a while. But if you are more persistent and patient than I am, here’s five things you can do to make the game’s loading times more tolerable and productive.

Number One – Write a novel. Hell, write two of them! Bonus points if its a fantasy novel.

Number Two – Travel to Mars.

Number Three – Solve a murder case.

Number Four – Read the entirety of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” then recupurate in a lengthy stay at Hospital from the ensuing brain damage.

And finally, number five – GET YOUR DEGREE!

That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn. If you liked it then please do let me know, and let your friends, family and Club Nintendo’s loved-ones know as well. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. And if you didn’t like it then enjoy scrambling to spend the rest of your useless Club Nintendo coins. Or stars. You can go now.


About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.