One of the biggest announcements for Nintendo at E3 was the announcement of Amiibo figures, NFC-enabled figures of famous Nintendo characters that can be used in multiple games. To start, Nintendo announced five games these figures will be compatible with, which already differentiates them from Skylanders or Disney Infinity figures, which are only compatible with current releases or one back. According to Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, Amiibo is Nintendo’s strategy for success from the Wii U console.
“I think Amiibo can have a significant impact on driving the install base for Wii U on the sales of figures themselves. I think this could be a significant business opportunity. We will continue to make new figures available through the balance of holiday 2014 and then we’re going to continuously launch new figures throughout 2015. For us, we’re not putting a numerical limit on how many varied figures we can launch. Our potential catalogue of figures in the space is quite broad.”
Aside from the fact that Nintendo seems to be comfortable with multiple character figures for their Amiibo service, Reggie also talked about why it’s taken the company so long to announce the NFC figures, despite the console launching in 2012 with NFC capabilities that have not been used outside of the oft-forgotten Pokemon Rumble U game.
“One, we wanted to be thoughtful in our approach. In our view, going down this path you have to have differentiation. Second, we wanted to make sure that we would launch the concept with a big franchise, and certainly Smash (Bros.) fits that bill. Smash is really perfect. All the various characters, the gameplay that Mr. Sakurai has created is fantastic. So for us it was really making sure we had the right approach and the right method to launch it.”
The real question here is whether or not there is a market for these figurines outside of the already hardcore Nintendo fanbase. Traditionally the Skylanders and Disney Infinity franchises have done exceptionally well on Nintendo consoles thanks to their kid-friendly gameplay approach. Will Nintendo find the same success for their figures this holiday season when the only games compatible with them will be Super Smash Bros.?