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How Club Nintendo Is Helping Nintendo Figure Out Which Games Appeal To Whom


Last month, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said to investors that Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS was helping increase the number of pre-orders for Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. To make a long story short, Iwata explained that kids that had played Super Smash Bros. Melee and Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire—both released within a year of each other—are now young adults, and are reliving their youth by picking up Smash 3DS and the new Pokémon remakes.


Following Iwata’s presentation on the subject, it was pointed out to him during an investor Q&A that, if Nintendo’s theory regarding the link between Smash and Pokémon was on the money, this represented a major opportunity for the company, since they now have the interest of an audience ranging from 18-25 years of age that might potentially be interested in checking other Nintendo games out. At the same time, it appears as though games on dedicated gaming portables haven’t really offered the market anything fresh in a while, and this could pose a potential problem. What, the investor posing the question asked, does Nintendo plan to do about this?


“This high level of active use has occurred at a time when there are so many other interesting titles for Nintendo 3DS, so we must consider what titles to offer next to those who’ve played and enjoyed Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire or Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS,” Iwata replied.


He went on to explain that, thanks to Club Nintendo, Nintendo have a good idea what games are correlated with other games and what aspects of these games appeal to various age groups. The one thing they’ve noticed from this research is that some of the people buying Smash and Pokémon ORAS on 3DS have not used a dedicated videogame system in a while. With that in mind, the games that Nintendo tries to offer these users next will be of great importance, as they could make the difference between them continuing to use their 3DSes or not.


Iwata then said that something Nintendo will do to steer these users toward other games is make use of the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U’s capabilities to recommend games to them. Furthermore, an even greater goal for 2015 is to make use of users’ Nintendo Network ID’s to offer them suggestions tailored to their tastes.


“In January, I said that for the next platform, we would like to skillfully combine dedicated video game systems and smart devices, and unify them all under the Nintendo Network ID system,” Iwata said. “So for example, one of the targets we’re aiming to achieve next year is, through the Nintendo Network ID, being able to offer options tailored to individual consumers based on the fact that they’ve played game A and game B, and so the probability they’ll enjoy game C is very high. We would like very much to work towards that.”


While Nintendo have yet to achieve this level of integration with Nintendo Network IDs to gauge the interests and tastes of their consumers, it sounds as though Club Nintendo is one of the tools helping with that goal in the meantime. It should be interesting to see if Iwata makes any further comments on this subject in the future, and just what games could be used to appeal to the returning Smash and Pokémon audience.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.