NintenRants – Amiibo
I thought I would try something new, so welcome readers to the first in my series of NintenRants, where I will simply go on a rant about something to do with Nintendo. This might be their operating procedures, business models, or just a fiery response to some news. These probably won’t be a massively regular thing (because I do love Nintendo) but now for my first target: the NFC-tech-laden business venture, Amiibo.
Before I start I want to say that I’m aware that not all of the problems that exist with Amiibo are Nintendo’s fault per se; however, it is impossible to ignore that some of these are detrimental to the possible further success of Amiibo and how, with a little alteration to their business plan, they could become even more successful. Also, I would like to point out that I am a fan of Amiibo (owning several myself), but that does not mean that there aren’t things about them that agitate me.
Firstly, and probably the biggest issue, are the stock problems that have plagued the venture since the beginning. For instance, the latest wave of the Smash Bros. Amiibo was released only recently and some of them are completely impossible to find already. In fact, some of them have been sold out on the Official Nintendo UK Store for the last couple of months. This is not a good business model. Producing small amounts of the figures does succeed in driving up demand, which I am sure was probably Nintendo’s goal, but it has led to a significant boom in scalpers scooping them up and then selling them on for hugely inflated rates, effectively removing them from justifiable purchase by those that would most want them (such as young kids). I mean, for instance, the Shulk Amiibo was around £11 on launch, but now cannot be found for less than £30 in most places. I know that Nintendo are resolving to sort this issue out, as they said recently, but this could have been avoided in the first place.
This leads to the second problem, the price point of Amiibo. The price of them on the Official UK Store is pretty much justifiable as it places the figures around the same price point as Disney’s ‘Infinity’ figures or the ‘Skylanders’ range. However, Nintendo’s pussy-fotting in Europe over enforcing a RRP (recommended retail price) with retailers, has led to rather large price increases in certain retailers. The best instance of this is Shopto’s recent price hike of Amiibo to £19.99, citing the need for “special packaging” that is remarkably similar to their standard packaging. I understand that Europe is a large market and is more diverse than the US or Japanese markets, but Nintendo deciding on a price point across the whole of Europe for Amiibo would stop their loyal customers being priced out of products they want to buy (NOTE: Possible future NintenRant).
The third problem to target has to be the functionality of Amiibo. Now, don’t get me wrong here, sometimes I have loved what the Amiibo have brought to Nintendo games since their inception. One key example of this being the ‘Hide and Seek’ challenges added to Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker by the Toad Amiibo, which I LOVE. However, there are not enough instances of this happening, with most functions of Amiibo in games being aesthetic and (seemingly) arbitrary fluff. I’m not denying that some of these aesthetic touches are wonderful, but it just feels like Nintendo are under-using the tech that actually have here. Putting it simply, it’s a shame that some Amiibo, if you’re not a fan of Smash Bros., are pretty much nothing more than slightly over-priced decorations. As the other side of this problem, it is now far too easy for Nintendo to fall into the insidious practice of on-disc DLC, using the Amiibo to unlock things that are already on the discs themselves (which has sadly already kind of occurred in Mario Party 10). If this were to happen fully, it would severely restrict the game for those that don’t have the Amiibo in question, which would be a slap in the face for loyal fans. Hopefully this won’t be the case, I mean the Splatoon Amiibo seem to be more than simple unlocks, so we will have to wait and see on this.
So, that’s my rant on Amiibo over, but what do you think? Have Nintendo handled their Amiibo business well, or are there changes you could suggest or would like to see? Also, if you disagree with me on this, why is that? Either way, let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@reuthegamer).