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A few months ago, Nintendo officially confirmed that it was creating its own line of figures like those of Skylanders and Disney Infinity. Originally, when the Wii U was first revealed, we did see that the GamePad has an NFC reader built into it, but at the time Nintendo had nothing to reveal about how it was being used. There was speculation, sure, but now, three years later (dear god, it's been that long?) we finally know what Nintendo is aiming to do with their built in NFC reader. Their figurines are called Amiibos, and they're going to work across multiple Nintendo titles, with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U being the first of them. I'm excited to collect them and try them out, but the more I think about them, the more I realize how much potential they have. I don't know how far in advance Nintendo's been planning them, but they have the potential to capitalize on an existing market in a big way. To put it bluntly; Nintendo could have Wii-like success if they do this right. They could change the industry entirely...and for the better,
You want a revolution? Nintendo's got one.
NFC stands for near-field communication, and the two biggest examples of the technology that we've seen in the last few years have, again, been Activision's Skylanders and Disney Interactive's Disney Infinity. Consumers purchase the game, but they also buy a kit that usually comes with a base and a couple figures as well. The included base is used to read the technology in the figures, and so the characters are brought to life in the game. The figurines have been popular for varying reasons; as a collector's item, and because of who the actual character is. Well, to be more specific, the former reason applies to Skylanders, the latter to Disney Infinity. The figurines have only applied to their respective titles, though; you don't use Skylanders in other Activision games. Nintendo's line of Amiibos are meant to break that trend by being used in a wide range of titles. Presumably, all future Nintendo titles (at least, Wii U titles) could end up using them. For some people this may seem like the console will turn into a "pay-to-unlock" thing, but I personally think that it could be really awesome for us as consumers, and it could turn a huge profit for Nintendo.
One of the biggest discussion points around Amiibo is how well it will sell. People were skeptical of Disney Infinity surviving, as Skylanders was already bringing home bucketfuls of cash, but it's been doing quite well, and is receiving a sequel in the upcoming months. Disney Infinity does a leg up over Skylanders because of the recognizable characters, but the question remains if Amiibo will do well for Nintendo as well as Disney Infinity did. Mario is one of the most recognizable characters out there, and with the promise of working across multiple titles, I think Amiibo will do at least decently well. I know that I personally will be picking up as many as I can, as I haven't really gotten into any figurine games before, and this is definitely the best place to start for me as a gamer.
Now, I mentioned before how if Nintendo does Amiibo "right", it could be a huge success for them. There are several routes Nintendo can take with this new technology, some more focused than others. If they double down on it, though, and really expand upon their usability across multiple titles...they could be bringing the bucketfuls home too.
The clearest and easiest example I've thought of (and, coincidentally, the actual inspiration for this blog) is related to Pokémon. Over the years, as the series has jumped to new platforms, it's become more and more convoluted to transfer Pokemon between games. The Palpark thing in Diamond and Pearl was alright, but trading the six Pokémon at a time thing in Black and White was very tedious, if memory serves. So, what could Nintendo do to alleviate all this hassle? Use Amiibo. Let's say that you want to transfer one PC box from X to Omega Ruby. You simply put a Pokémon Amiibo on the 3DS reader, scan over the box, and then transfer the box into the other game. Or maybe you even take two boxes, or three. I don't know exactly how the figures and technology works, but if they're able to take an amount of data that large...well, I'd be a happy camper, and many others could be too. This could also ease transferring teams to console titles, if another Battle Revolution-esque game ever released. Another good thing would be that you wouldn't need two systems to transfer; sure, you can do that with the Pokémon Bank, but there are two downsides to using that service; one, if you don't have online capabilities somewhere, you can't access it. Two, traffic can cause that service to be slow.
Do you all get what I'm saying, now? Just based on Pokémon alone, Amiibo could really take off. Imagine then if the figurines could help save file data, as a second back up, or another save file. Different series' figurines could function in different ways. Not every Pokémon needs one, but releasing starters and legendaries with every Pokémon release could work. They wouldn't be necessary to unlock content necessarily, just to hold save file data and transfer between titles.
Besides just Smash Bros. and Pokémon, there are many possibilities for Amiibo in Nintendo's franchises. Putting ones from different series together could unlock costumes, or special levels. Time trials for completing Zelda dungeons, or Mario levels...alright, I honestly don't have much in those departments; Nintendo's more creative than me.
It's no secret that Nintendo isn't the best in its forays into the online space. While I think it's been drastically overblown (online on Wii U isn't THAT bad), there are definitely areas with much-needed improvement. So, if Nintendo isn't the best in online...maybe Amiibo could be their ticket to fixing that. Let's say that you want to play at a friend's house, and use your Nintendo Network ID to get progress in a title, or something (i.e. Splatoon rankings or something). Instead of logging into that profile, you could bring an Amiibo over and scan in your profile instead. Or, again, they could be used as save data back-ups; while Nintendo may eventually have cloud gaming too, not everyone is going to have internet capabilities. Amiibo could be for those people. Again, I'm not super creative with this sort of thing...but hopefully my point is coming across.
In short, I think that Nintendo needs to go all in with Amiibo. They have lots of brand recognition already, and with the release of Super Smash Bros. drawing ever closer, it seems like the perfect time for them to connect all of their titles in a new, organic way. I know I'll buy them...the only question is if Nintendo will truly capitalize on this new endeavor of theirs. You got this, Ninty. I believe in you.