I should really stop complaining about Nintendo. Nintendo is, after all, my first love in video games. I grew up playing the NES, games like Battletoads, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Jackal were my jam. The first console I ever purchased was a Super Nintendo to the tune of $150, which is a ton of money for a 10-year-old (my parents agreed to split the costs if I saved). I have the music to Super Mario Land on the Game Boy forever in my head.
So it is out of place of adoration that I am so incredibly disappointed and infuriated by Nintendo’s consistent ability to simply not get it.
Sure, this Amiibo debacle has rapidly spiraled to the point of PR disaster for Nintendo. There’s the timed release, the retail exclusives, the instantly sold out preorders, the impossibility of finding a “rare” figure in store, the reseller’s markup of at least 4-5 times the MSRP. But really, it’s not about that. I get the feeling that Nintendo just doesn’t care.
Here they are, sitting on a gold mine of a product, and they are not only refusing to produce enough to meet the demand, Nintendo has consistently and defiantly refused to acknowledge a problem exists. When GameStop’s online store crashed due to Amiibo hungry customers bombarding the website, Nintendo’s response was to retweet GameStop’s announcement of the crash.
When prodded by throngs of upset fans and questioned by the press, Nintendo has stuck to their script of silence, refusing to comment on a situation they know is volatile. Ultimately it is an argument that they can’t win, because they’ve already made their decision and there is no point in reiterating their stance. They have no interest in fully supporting Amiibos.
They have created these nifty little toys, that are basically little tricks that games can utilize. But they are no where near the level of interactivity of Activision’s Skylanders or Disney’s Infinity characters. Those figures actually insert the figures into the game, with the purpose of building around their particular worlds. Skylanders has you training these creatures ala Pokemon and Disney Infinity has the endless possibilities of the Toybox.
Nintendo’s Amiibos? Unlockable skins and the ability to train a character in Super Smash Bros. Skylanders and Infinity have a dangerous hook built into their system, the figures are required to add them into the game. If I want to have the Sorcer’s Apprentice Mickey in my Infinity, I need to buy that figure. The same does not hold true for Amiibos.
For all intensive purposes, all the features of the game are baked in from the onset. Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS have all their base characters already present inside, the additional function of the Amiibo is storing your trained AI combatant. While certainly an intriguing feature for all those back-alley underground Amiibo fight leagues out there, the feature doesn’t actually bring anything to the game. So the fact that Nintendo is touting their expansion capabilities with their toys-to-game figures, they have kind of missed the point.
Sure, Project S.T.E.A.M. can add the Fire Emblem characters into the game, but you’d have to be one of the lucky few to have gotten a hold of any of the Fire Emblem Amiibos, notoriously the hardest to come by due to the supply shortage. Beyond the ability to add little things here and there, I get the feeling that Nintendo’s plan of action regarding Amiibos was never fully fleshed out to begin with.
There is a certain disconnect when it comes to Nintendo and understanding their modern fanbase. It is a fanbase that, while fiercely loyal, is notably stingy when it comes to their collections. Fire Emblem had long been clamored for a western release and over the past decade Nintendo has slowly made that a reality. Fire Emblem: Awakening’s massive success should have been a sign to Nintendo that they have something special on their hands, something that clearly their most dedicated fans want more of. Of course the Fire Emblem Amiibos, already the most popular of the Super Smash Bros. characters, would be the first to sell out.
And what does Nintendo do? They sit quietly in their suits while their social media campaigns don’t even mention the insanity occurring beneath them.
Maybe that’s the truth of it. Whatever the fans shout about is beneath Nintendo. They are more interested in making a guaranteed dollar than actually listening to their fan base. Let’s face it. We all know that the Amiibo craze is ridiculous. Nintendo knows it by not supporting it in terms of physical content and in terms of actual software support. They could be doing so much more with the product by building a world where the figures could actually thrive, but they are way too conservative a company to let an outsider control their IPs.
Nintendo fans know how crazy it is by lining up in GameStops across the country with the hopes of snagging the maybe 1 or 2 rare figures a store might be allotted. Fans will overpay from scalpers, import from foreign countries and cry about the lack of support until they’re blue in the face.
All while Nintendo sits on their hands.
The sad thing is, I would still do anything for a Lucina Amiibo.