IT & Systems Management

Here's how Nintendo will get people to use its smartphone apps

Nintendo is planning a new rewards program to go along with its first smartphone game next month.

Dubbed “My Nintendo,” the program will reward players both for playing games and for making purchases. Those rewards will then carry across smartphones, tablets, and Nintendo game consoles.

Nintendo plans to split rewards into two types of points. “Platinum Points” will be awarded for playing the company’s mobile apps, logging into the Nintendo eShop, or meeting certain other conditions. Players can then redeem these points for downloadable content. “Gold Points” will work more like a traditional rewards program, letting players earn money-saving coupons by purchasing Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games.

Down the road, Nintendo plans to tie other services into the My Nintendo program, including retail store perks and cloud-synced data. The company has already begun experimenting with personalized recommendations for My Nintendo users in Japan.

The program will kick off in March with the launch of Miitomo, a “social experience” in which players can interact online through their Mii avatars “in a lighthearted and welcoming environment,” Nintendo says. This is one of five mobile apps Nintendo plans to release by the end of March 2017. Players will be able to pre-register for My Nintendo starting on February 17.

Why this matters: Nintendo tends to be behind the times when it comes to cloud services, but the new rewards program is an attempt to play catch-up. Sony and Microsoft both offer rewards programs already, and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Rewards even turn gaming activity into real-world currency. Still, neither of those programs hook into smartphones in the way Nintendo is planning; the new scheme could be an effective hook for Nintendo fans as the company tries to expand beyond dedicated game consoles.

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