The My Nintendo loyalty programme has been live for a week in the West, finally delivering a Club Nintendo replacement. There's been plenty of positivity in the reception to it so far, yet there's no hiding the fact there's also discontent - the download / digital-only aspect of it is one sticking point.
Due to the nature of the service it hasn't taken long to get a sense of what it's all about, including its strengths and flaws. With that in mind we thought we'd outline some key pros, cons and areas for improvement with the service.
The User Interface
What's immediately striking about My Nintendo is how slick its website is. It's a testament to how far web design has come - when first logging in it takes you on a guided tutorial, and as standard there's a cute animated Mii at the top of the page. It's highly interactive (with hidden 'missions') and easy to use, with our only slight niggle being that you have to click into a Reward to see its price. Add in clear and easily accessible account menus and details, and it's an accomplished effort.
Platinum Points and Exclusive Content
Moving on from the debate over a download-only service, the Platinum currency is (under the right circumstances) very generous; more on those 'circumstances' later. By linking social and Nintendo accounts and by regularly accessing Miiverse, the eShop etc there are plenty of points to gain. For Miitomo users, also, there are a lot of daily rewards.
As a result the Platinum Rewards are certainly up for grabs, and the exclusive My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is an excellent option. Another unique option is a DS download on 3DS with WarioWare Touched!, along with two 3DS HOME Themes. A few other rewards are less appealing, but it's certainly not unreasonable to target all of the unique Platinum Rewards.
Points that can be earned without spending money along with unique rewards - that's a good combination.
Buying eShop Downloads From Nintendo's Official Websites
The approaches are different per region but the idea is the same - over 2000 games can be purchased from Nintendo's regional websites, and they then download automatically to your Wii U or 3DS. All you need to do is link your Nintendo Network ID to the newer Nintendo Account.
In North America there's a relatively flashy 'Game Store' section, while in Europe there are multiple ways to find games and then buy them directly from the web page. My Nintendo points can be earned, naturally, and it's an area that can also get better in the future.
Behind the Scenes
It's worth praising the unsung heroes from Nintendo and DeNA that created the server code and Nintendo Account infrastructure. Once your logins are connected it takes a matter of seconds for activities to synchronise with the official website, even when using a 3DS or Wii U to access Miiverse to claim points, for example. It all just works.
Download-only Gold Points
While the Platinum Points reward 'engagement' of various kinds, the Gold Points are focused solely on eShop purchases (no DLC of HOME Theme support, though). The bands are clearly defined, yes, but many are unhappy that no past eShop purchases (since the closure of Club Nintendo, for example) have been counted towards points.
There's also displeasure, of course, that it's download-only at all. The absence (at this stage) of points in physical retail games feels like a step back for those that happily registered their disc purchases in the Club Nintendo era.
Time Limits on Rewards and Spending Points
Each reward has an expiry date, ranging from a month or two away right into the Fall / Autumn season. Particular rewards are desirable but not easy to earn in quick time, especially with Gold Points; this will no doubt enable rotation, though also points to Nintendo being keen to limit the Rewards range to its current (and relatively modest) size.
In addition, points earned must be spent within six months of being earned. This seems rather unnecessary, especially when some points will take a fair while to earn; it'll also fragment totals, as some points could dribble away and continually limit the overall haul. We hope this will be rescinded, as it's an unnecessary condition that only frustrates users.
Poorly Executed 'Just for You' Rewards
The 'Just For You' eShop discounts are, to be brutally honest, rubbish. Not the offers themselves, in which you redeem coins in exchange for an eShop discount, but the actual rewards. Branded as if they're customised per user, they're not, and are actually shared across all users (with variations per region).
For this writer they're irrelevant, as I own all of the games already - Nintendo would know this if it had utilised Club Nintendo and Nintendo Network ID data to determine the offers. As that's not the case it just means that the entire range of discount deals is a waste of space for some gamers. Thankfully this can easily be improved if Nintendo personalises the offers based on user data; we hope that'll happen.
An Over-Reliance on Miitomo for Platinum Points
If you're in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, U.S or Canada, and enjoy Miitomo enough (with some friends) to use it daily, then earning Platinum Points is easy-peasy. The problem is that the app is yet to arrive in a lot of countries with notable Nintendo fan-bases, and those users will have a very tough time accumulating sufficient points for the more appealing rewards. We're sure Nintendo and DeNA are working hard to roll Miitomo out to more countries, but the wait will be disappointing for some eager to make the most of My Nintendo (as the loyalty programme is available in plenty of countries without Miitomo).
It should be noted, of course, that more upcoming Nintendo / DeNA mobile apps will likely include Platinum Points integration.
Areas for Improvement (Beyond Fixing the 'Cons')
We've praised the exclusive Platinum Points content and some of the rewards, and this writer's a fan of the non-discount options, though there's certainly a feeling among some that the rewards list is too thin and a little lacking in variety. That's especially true if the discount options are for games you already own.
It'll be interesting to see how it progresses, as the nature of a loyalty programme is that it offers limited rewards in exchange for our purchases and engagement with Nintendo products. We're hopeful the rewards list will expand rather than just rotate every 2-3 months, as there's a danger than My Nintendo will otherwise feel too static and minimalistic for too long.
Improved Web-Based eShop Purchases
It's a nice step forward to be able to buy a full library of games (including smaller download titles) via Nintendo's website. There can certainly be improvements, however. Though some feel improvements can be made to it, the Nintendo of America 'Game Store' is a strong start, with a clear area on the site and a relatively nice interface in which to navigate and find games.
It's not quite as strong in Europe, with the region currently running separate stores (with very limited physical stock outside of the UK) and requiring users to find a game's official page in order to buy a download. A presentable and clear download purchase area like that in North America would be welcome. It would also be nice, globally, if eShop wishlists were synchronised and accessible to view on the websites, which would allow users to quickly view and buy games they've been watching closely.
Some Minor Tweaks and Fixes
My Nintendo's official website and points system has started well, but a few small tweaks can be made on a technical level. There are some occasions when points need to be 'claimed' on the website or within Miitomo, and plenty of 'missions' where it's automatic. For those that aren't using the service closely this can be confusing, and it'd be easier if it was all automated without the need to claim anything.
As mentioned above, also, it'd be nice to see how much a Reward costs without clicking into its page, while the Gold and Platinum rewards aren't at all easy to distinguish on the top page, either. These are minor niggles, and hopefully easily fixed.
So there you have it, some of our views on the best and worst aspects of My Nintendo after its first week. Let us know what you think in the comments below.