Feature: 12 Days of Christmas - A Year of Promotions from Nintendo

Spend a little, get a bit more

While we could argue until the end of days about some aspects of Nintendo pricing, particularly with download retail games, 2013 has been another year where the company has taken positive strides to offer promotions and incentives on key games and their systems. Whether in Europe or North American there are decent odds that you've enjoyed a Nintendo-sponsored discount at some point, with these marketing efforts designed to keep gamers happy and the company's coffers full.

Early on Nintendo of Europe ran its "So Many Games" promotion, which was targeted at eager 3DS gamers that had been building their game catalogues. A list of eight games, current and on the way, presented the target for Club Nintendo members, as registering any three entitled the participant to choose one of the remaining titles as a free download. As it included the big hitters of early 2013 and — at the time — upcoming blockbusters such as Animal Crossing: New Leaf, it was the perfect opportunity to grab an anticipated game for free.

Nintendo of Europe would continue with its 3DS promotions, applying a twist where the benefit was to friends and not yourself; Nintendo would naturally profit from participants too. Two similar promotions ran for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Animal Crossing: New Leaf — if you registered either game on Club Nintendo you would receive a Recommendation Code; if your friend or relative bought a 3DS or 3DS XL and registered it on Club Nintendo, they could then use the code to get a free copy of that game. The idea was to promote gaming together, and it served its purpose — we do wonder, though, how many "hey, I can give you a free game but, erm, buy a 3DS first" conversations led to tumbleweed blowing across assorted locations. That aside, if a friend was buying a 3DS anyway, these promotions were a neat idea.

The European arm of Nintendo was also keen to drive us towards buying our retail games on the Wii U eShop, with a neat offer where downloading Pikmin 3 on the platform entitled you to a 30% discount on the eShop version of The Wonderful 101. As both games were terrific — and still are, obviously — this was an attractive deal; some initial technical hiccups applying the discount were thankfully resolved.

Gamers in North America didn't entirely miss out, thankfully, with Reggie Fils-Aime's crew pitching in with deals of their own. A particularly enticing offer for those with lots of gaming time and skill to put to use was the opportunity to register Shin Megami Tensei IV and Fire Emblem: Awakening and receive $30 of eShop credit. The best thing was that you could still hunt out the best prices from online retailers and buy boxed copies, as it was registering the games on Club Nintendo that was the key to taking advantage. Wii U owners also had a chance for some free credit, though it wasn't quite as generous; it was a credit for cash deal that required funds to be added to your account before a fixed date — $50-$99 entitled you to a $5 voucher, $100+ a $10 voucher. With retail releases such as Pikmin 3 and The Wonderful 101 imminent at the time of the offer, it was a bonus for those with the available money that were also planning to go the download route.

In more recent times Nintendo of America has promoted big name Virtual Console titles with weekly eShop discounts, which have covered Zelda, Mario, Donkey Kong and Mega Man to date, with the themed offers currently on a hiatus.

Current promotions in Europe include a free Super Mario 3D Land offer for those that register a new 3DS or 3DS XL over the festive period; unlike offers from earlier in the year this doesn't include existing owners. Current 3DS gamers, meanwhile, can take advantage of the recently announced Nintendo Network ID promotion, however, which will gift a free download of Game Boy Color title Super Mario Bros. Deluxe to anyone that's registered a Nintendo Network ID on their 3DS up to 31st January 2014 — the codes will be distributed from the middle of February onwards.

Beyond Nintendo we're seen plenty of publishers, both big and small, offer temporary and permanent discounts on the eShop platforms. After years of frozen prices on the Wii and DSiWare stores, we now have the benefit of far more dynamic, competitive online services where publishers can offer reductions to tempt us to their games. We've been bombarded with recent discounts for games released earlier in 2013 and even last year, so those interested in a title but on the fence may be tempted to take the plunge.

Nintendo, across regions, has also been active with hardware bundles at exciting prices, with a small formal price cut also arriving for the Wii U. In a sign of what could come in other countries in the future, Nintendo UK also launched its own online retail store, which stocks some exclusives and bundles such as the Wii U Mario Mega Bundle. Other territories have Nintendo stores online that typically trade in refurbished controllers and accessories, but it'll be interesting to see whether this first-party retail approach will be adopted elsewhere.

Overall, we'd suggest its been another fairly generous year from Nintendo, either in direct promotions or through improved infrastructure to allow download publishers to discount their games. Here's to 2014 and more opportunities to save money on games we love.

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