Time was, you bought a new Nintendo game and got a code with it, which you entered into a Nintendo website and got points in return. Never mind that anything worth buying with these points sold out immediately (the used to give away Gameboy Players for the GameCube, and certain NDS games) – people were generally happy. Or, at least, not gnashing their teeth in frustration.
You can now use Star Points to buy Wii Points (although at a conversion rate of about four to one, meaning that you’d have to buy sixteen full-price Wii titles to get an N64 game from the Wii Shop for free… which seems somewhat unfair), but Nintendo have even scuppered this process: For some reason, they artificially limit the availability of the Wii Points codes so that in most cases you go to the Star Catalogue site and find that absolutely no Wii points are available. Actually, I know exactly why they do this – they want you to find that nothing is available and so crack-out your credit card to buy more with, you know, real money…
The thing which gets my goat, however, it the method by which Star Points are acquired: yes, I know that they don’t cost anything and that Nintendo doesn’t have to give them away – but that kudos they gain for this is largely lost in the heavy-handed way that they make you beg for them. Time was, you’d get a game, enter the code, and get your points. Fine. Now, however, they’ve added the requirement to complete a survey every time you wish to register your points. This survey feels wrong as it demands personal information – but mostly bother me because it is simply dumb. I’ve registered my Wii console, on my account I’ve bought a not-insignificant number of Wii Shop and WiiWare games, and I’ve registered about a dozen full Wii games. And yet, even though Nintendo know this for a fact, on every single registration I’m asked “Did you purchase your Wii console with this game?”. Why??!?
(There’s also the issue that Nintendo probably think that they have an overwhelming number of games played only by a single person – this is probably more likely due to them making you fill out all of the personal information repeatedly for every single player… woe betide large families, they’d be filling in pointless registration forms all day! You’d have thought that it would be difficult for a games company not to see how this comes over to customers are pointless bureaucracy.)
On the positive side, at least they abandoned their dumb-as-a-sack-of-hammers plan to expire Star Points after a fixed amount of time… given that the Star Catalogue is in an almost perpetual state of being sold out, I can’t imagine that would ever go down like anything other than a lead balloon.