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Nintendo is killing its Club Nintendo loyalty program

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Nintendo has announced the worldwide closure of Club Nintendo, its loyalty program in which customers could collect "coins" from software and hardware and exchange them for various goods. Members in the US will be able to earn coins through the end of March, and will have until the end of June to redeem them. Nintendo says it will add "many" downloadable games and physical items to the store to help people spend their balance, and is also making the Flipnote Studio 3D animation software available to members for free. A new rewards program will be launched at some point in the future.

Club Nintendo was never a hugely popular or transformative service in the US or Europe, but take it from me — it was amazing in Japan. I took delivery of a (really useful!) 3DS card case just yesterday, for instance. Sometimes Nintendo would literally only release games in Japan through Club Nintendo; that's how I own an surprisingly rare copy of Excitebots for Wii. And the ultra-limited-edition 3DS you see on top of the card case in the photo above? I won that from Club Nintendo a few years ago, though I'm not sure I ever even signed up for it. For me, at least, the program will be missed.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to agonize over whether to spend my last points on a bunch of obscure NES downloads or a coaster shaped like a 1UP block.