Amiibo has been as surprising Nintendo product that caught the world by storm. Tacking on the success of Skylanders and Disney Infinity Nintendo had announced that they would be coming out with NFC embeded figures that would work with a variety of Nintendo games, mostly Smash Brothers for the Wii U and 3DS.
What made the Amiibos so appealing was that unlike infinity and skylanders, you didn’t need an additional sensor. The NFC capability was built into the 3DS and Wii U, later that functionality would be baked into the Switch Joycons and pro controllers.
Fans were skeptical that Nintendo should be diving into the Toys To Life genre; Skylanders and other toys to life were huge and a lot of them warmed pegs. But the Amiibo offered fan favorite IP like Mario, Samus, and Bowser. And at 13 dollars a piece, they were collectible to those who didn’t even use them out of the box.
And it was a crazy success. A ton of characters sold out instantaneously in the US leaving a lot of people lining up for hours or paying gobs of money on eBay. This would also fuel the conspiracy that Nintendo was creating these shortages on purpose even though the shortage of characters was based in the US market only. If you were savvy enough and didn’t care about the package, a Japanese version was incredibly easy to find.
This consipricy was later squashed when the Animal Crossing line of Amiibo were announced. They were so plentiful SmashJT decided to smash them with his gigantic mallet Also Nintendo would reprint the lower quantity characters like Ness and Wii Fit Trainer making the original prints less desirable and killing the incentive to hunt for them only to flip them on eBay for mad cash.
Now that the entire roster of Smash Brothers is in Amiibo form, some people stopped there. Nintendo hasn’t really gone full force with the Amiibo franchise either. The Animal Crossing fiasco might have caused Nintendo to go back to the drawing board on how they make Amiibos. Also Amiibos aren’t really used intensily outside of Smash. Their use in Breath of the Wild really soured fans when it was discovered that the Super Smash Link, which was out of print for at least a year, would unlock the beloved Epona. Prices for the Amiibo skyrocketed and quickly fell once Nintendo reprinted Link.
Nintendo would further exacerbate the situation when they released 2 exclusive double pack Metroid Amiibos. While the other two Samus Amiibos unlocked an E tank and the squishy Metroid would unlock the ability to locate hidden metroids, The other Samus included in the two pack would be required to unlock an super hard mode. Fans were not pleased because up to this point, the Amiibos unlocked items that were obtainable in the game. They were more display pieces rather than physical DLC.
Nintendo is now just trickling Amiibo out to test the waters. The Wedding pack for Mario Odyssey, the large Detective Pikachu and most recently the Dark Souls Amiibo. There’s still the triple shovel knight pack on its way as well.
So what is the future of the Amiibo brand? There is no longer large displays at Target and the biggest vendor, Toys R Us is no longer with us. Even Gamestop seems to have the same old Amiibo for weeks on end.
Well who knows. E3 is right around the corner and with Smash 18 being the main focus, we’re likely to see a resurgence of Amiibo craze assuming Nintendo still supports it. Or maybe they'll fade away into obscurity.