Nintendo amiibo—Do You Really Still Care?
Nintendo no doubt made great waves with their line of collectable amiibo figures, immediately reaping a fearsome tally on the wallets of collectors, intrepid scalpers/entrepreneurs, and rabid fans alike.
They were first brought to market in North America on November 21, 2014, in Europe on November 28, 2014, and in Japan on December 6, 2014 and from there, temporarily, took over a large swath of gaming culture as the hot topic of conversation. People were buying, pre-ordering, trading, and customizing amiibo while simultaneously being drenched in attention from media outlets hoping to prey on the easy news that this new fanbase generated. Case and point, Gamespot, alongside other media outlets, like Polygon, ran articles covering insane ebay sales containing poorly manufactured amiibo like a legless Princess Peach and a double-canon Samus Aran.
But nowadays, I really want to know, does anyone really care about amiibo? Sure, it was nice to collect a few of them early on, when conversation was hot, and I still have the original Zelda and Samus. I bought most of the Breath of the Wild amiibo purely because I knew they were a way of getting around the games weapon-degradation grind, and I doubled back to buy the original Link amiibo because that was literally the only way of getting Epona in the game, a scummy move on Nintendo’s part.
I ask you this because they are, as we’ve always known, glorified DLC.
Perhaps a better acronym would be OOGPs—Out of Game Purchases. Wouldn’t you rather just pay a dollar to get that in-game bonus without needing to also store a figure? Better yet, wouldn’t you rather not have to pay a dollar and just get the full game without transactions?
When new amiibo are announced, people get excited for a while. Then the conversation moves on and the amiibo slide into the background. Sales have never been consistent because of this, and initial boom came from the reveal and appeal of having in-game effects, but as amiibo became less fundamentally useful in games, refilling hearts or granting magic for example in Zelda games, the interest seemed to die.
Fiscal Year 2016 brought in a figure of approximately 10.6 million amiibo being sold, this number dropped to 3.8 million amiibo sold by the end of FY2017, with this number turning around in FY2018 rising to 10.3 million amiibo sold. There’s also a thriving bootleg scene for the amiibo cards which are easily replicated and sold online, with one example having sold some 1177 card packs at the time of writing, with each pack containing 22 cards, making a total loss of 39094 potential amiibo sold.
So do people really care?
Or has the initial buzz of the amiibo collectors scene finally worn off after all this time? I don’t find myself able to engage with them, not anymore at least. I haven’t “tapped” an amiibo since I finished Breath of the Wild, and I couldn’t tell you when I last did it prior to that.
There are certainly hardcore collectors out there, the customization scene still exists for better or for worse, and Nintendo have gone as far as selling 63-amiibo-in-one bumper packs to drum up some more interest. I’m sure there’s money to be made, and collectors to be pleased, but I think the amiibo craze has peaked, and I don’t think it will ever be as important as a conversation point as it was in its early days. Although, given the recent sales figures of the Switch point at it being over the 20 million mark, there are still plenty of customers to appeal to.
Fun fact – Did you know that Nintendo avoids capitalizing the “a” in amiibo in their officially published materials?