Amiibo: Nintendo's NFC Contender / by Benjamin Sawyer

In a world where game cases come filled with download codes, it seems that the video game industry is going digital and less physical. Amiibo, however, seems to be going against the grain. Successfully. Nintendo designed a wireless communications and data storage protocol (memory cards) called Amiibo. The protocol was named after “Amii” which has the same sentiment as “Friend” or “Buddy” in Japanese. On November 21, 2014, Amiibo released collectable Nintendo characters that interact with games on  New Nintendo 3DS devices and the Wii U with an adapter for the older Nintendo 3DS devices that will be released in 2015.

Gaming companies strive to make their titles profitable after  release day. Many create additional content to be bought online, downloadable expansion sets of items and additional quests, and games that have special content depending on the place one bought it (The Sims is a big user of this marketing). But a few developers decided that they needed a title with a more continuous profit. Creating DLC or another game  could take months to years of development and thousands to millions of dollars.

The answer? Merchandising and game play!

This idea was profitable for the Skylanders figure set first released in 2011. Disney Infinity followed with their own figure set in 2013. Not only did the companies make profits off of the game, they profited off of the collectable toys that would interact in the game- like an unlockable gameplay option. The company could release new figures with the game, but also release different sets of figures after to generate more money for the franchise.

The figures became very popular not only for the game play extras, but for the collector values as well. The figurines are desirable for decoration or play for a variety of ages and genders. These “buddies” are nearly timeless as they feature characters in both new and old games. Nintendo seems to be no different in this matter.

Amiibo brings something different. The ability to use the same figure to interact with several different games. While this is impressive, they raise the bar once more by changing the function the figures will have on the gameplay of the game titles. Amiibo is making the figures more desirable to collect by making the set  impact a variety of games in different ways.

The figures are read by the Wii U gamepad’s built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) reader and the Nintendo 3DS will use a peripheral device to read the figures when it is released. Depending on the game, the figures have the ability to add a character to the game, level-up or customize your current character, give bonuses or special items, and even more.

Figures will have two options for a game: “read” only or “read and write”. Read only games will allow the figures to be used on multiple games at a time. Read and write; however, can only be used in one game at a time and the information will be lost from the transfer from one game to the next. A way to avoid this problem is to collect multiples of figures for read and write games. Each figure starts at $12.99.It can add up quickly.

Nintendo released the first two sets of Amiibo figures to be compatible with the Wii U games of Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8, and Hyrule Warriors. The titles for the Nintendo 3DS are Super Smash Bros., Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, and One Piece: Super Grand Battle X. Later Wii U titles include Kirby and the Rainbow Cruise, Mario Party 10, Captain Toad: Treasure Trader, Star Fox Wii U, and Yoshi’s Woolly World.

The first 2 sets of figures (released November and December) include Mario, Link, Samus, Kirby, Fox, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, Peach, Marth, Yoshi, Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, Pit, Zelda, Luigi, Captain Falcon, Diddy Kong, and Little Mac. The next set of figures is to be release in February 2015 and include Bowser, Toon Link, Sheik, Ike, Lucario, Rosalina, Shulk, Sonic, Mega Man, King Dedede, and Meta Knight.

However, not all figures will work in every game of the series Nintendo is releasing. Of the first three Wii U games and two sets of figures only Mario, Link, Samus, Kirby, Fox, Donkey Kong, Peach, Yoshi, Luigi, and Captain Falcon work in all three games. The others only work in Super Smash Bros. and Hyrule Warriors. Of the later set of figures, only Toon Link will work in all three Wii U games while the other 10 will only work in the same two games. That is until new titles are released.

Certain figures have been sold out in stores and rumors were generated that there was only a specific amount of characters produced, causing panic. But Nintendo denied those rumors saying that stores will have to restock. This is good news for people who wanted the rare Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, and Marth figures that have been rising in cost above $100 online.

The next set; however, will have set amount of figures and sold only specific places. According to NintendoWorldReport, Lucario is at Toys R Us, Meta Knight is at Best Buy, Shulk is at GameStop, and Rosalina & Luma is at Target. Lucario’s pre-order has been sold out for a while now, so it will be very hard to get a hold of in the future. It’s expected that this next set will be one of the rarest sets, adding to its value.

Deformities in the figures are making them very valuable to collectors as well. On Ebay, factory defects of certain characters like Samus having two cannons or a legless Peach is providing a great profit for those who came across them. The Samus sold for $2,500 and the legless Peach sold for a whopping $25,200! Be on the look-out for defects when you are scouring the stores for these hot ticket items.

Like everything else Nintendo, Amiibos are hard going to get harder and harder to find, at least the rare ones. So good luck, and like the Nintendo franchise Pokemon says…Gotta Catch ‘Em All!