To quote a particularly insightful porcupine, “Nintendo is a weird dichotomy of a company. It does what it wants, yet aims to please.” I must say wholly concur, as evident by Nintendo offering up MewTwo/Lucas/Roy/Ryu and the Fighter Ballot for Smash 4, features fans have clamored for since release, while also playing the hopelessly oblivious parent in regards to the so-called “Amiibogeddon”.
One Crisis After Another
After the Wii U/GameCube Adapter shortage dilemma, one may have been inclined to assume that Nintendo would tak e measures to learn from their mistakes. Perhaps their executives would enroll in a few Econ. 101 courses, learn the rudimentary rules of supply and demand, and from there on out, produce the proper amount of such a highly demanded product. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and when Nintendo released their version of the “toys to life” figure, they also turned a blind eye and a middle finger to Amiibo fans everywhere. Attempting to get your mitts on Villager, Rosalina, or King Dedede became futile and the chaos only escalated as time went on, with later waves becoming increasingly rarer. If you didn’t have the pleasure of camping out in the frigid rain on the morning of the April 29th, likely due to the fact that you’re an upright citizen with responsibilities, you likely won’t even lay your eyes on a single damn Amiibo from Wave 4 at all. That is, of course, unless you enjoy forking over ludicrous amounts of cash to scalpers for a $12 plastic toy.
Increased Scarcity, Decreased Fan Satisfaction
Admittedly, I’m a bit of a hypocrite, seeing as I do feed into the madness by avidly throwing my money at the figures and I was indeed one of those crazed fans camping out for Greninja on the morning of the 29th. Collecting the figures is oddly satisfying and I love being able to establish a small Nintendo-themed army on my desk. In all honesty, I also enjoy the idea of “The Great Amiibo Hunt”; planning your camp-out strategy and meeting fellow Amiibros in the process is an experience I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy, however, I am just one single man. Not all consumers can afford to put all other obligations on hold just to arrive at Target near the crack of dawn because Jigglypuff is their Smash main and nor should they have to. Fan’s motivation for participating in activies like camping out should be derived from a shared passion, not from extremely limited quantities. Selling 5 total Charizard’s and then scoffing at all the unlucky kids who didn’t snag one is simply not a good method to maintaining fan loyalty, nor does it seem like an efficient way to turn a profit.
The Issue of Functionality.
If you can’t tell, I’m pretty irritated about the whole brouhaha. While I don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, a simple analysis of the outrageous demand for these things would seem to illustrate that a simple increase in production would appeal to both parties involved. Fans could finally acquire the likes of Lucario and Meta Knight and Nintendo would profit from selling more due to the increase in quantity demanded. While I have a whole seperate shpeal on paywalls and microtransactions, I actually find that Amiibo have struck a good middle ground between having a nifty purporse and being “pay to play” content. Most unlocked is nonessential or purely aesthetic, like the reskins in Mario Kart or Yoshi’s Wooly World or intelligent fighters in Smash Bros. Rather, the crux of the issue lies in the fact Nintendo wants to have its cake and eat it too; it desires Amiibo to serve as a functional competitor to other interactive toys like Skylanders and Disney Infinity while also being considered a unique and valued collectible. Unfortunately, adding functionality to nearly all of your new titles at E3 and then producing scarce quantities of the figures is a shitty business model that screws over the entire fanbase. Hell, Nintendo revealed a new Animal Crossing game that appears to be mostly for the enjoyment Amiibo-users when, ironically, the Villager Amiibo is one of the rarest figures on the market. I’m extremely curious as to how Nintendo expects to sell any copies of Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival when they sell so few actual Amiibos.
Photo credit to Gamespot.
Unfortunately, the debacle doesn’t appear have solution anywhere on the distant horizon. Though Nintendo has repeatedly promised to change their erroneous ways and correct the “Amiibogeddon”, fans have yet to see these plentiful restocks they’ve been promised (there have been a few but nothing substantial), which is why I urge Nintendo to get their shit together. Though fans love Nintendo for generally doing what they please, as illustrated by Patrick’s quote, there’s a very fine line between not givin’ a damn and just being an asshole by ignoring your fanbase. So, I leave you with a question to be pondered: Is a game truly “Amiibo interactive” if players can’t even find any damn Amiibo?