Opinion: Why Nintendo's lack of Amiibo availability is primed to hurt

Nintendo started rolling out the first of the third wave of Amiibo figures yesterday and the story remains largely the same. At what point does the lack of availability start to hurt?

3

Sunday morning marked the official rollout of the third wave of Nintendo's Amiibo wave of figures. Many of them are available across a number of outlets, but it was also the first of the waves to feature retailer-exclusives. With a handful of figures from the first two waves still unavailable, there was hope that Nintendo would foresee the demand from its rabid fanbase and issue enough supply to keep everyone happy.

By the time I exited the local Target that morning, it was painfully clear that this wasn't going to be the case… again. That's a big loss for fans, but at the end of the day, it's going to be a much bigger loss for Nintendo.

Nintendo has had two waves to figure out that Amiibo figures were a much bigger hit than they could have anticipated. They had nearly three months to realize that supply for many of the figures was woefully low, in proportion to how many people were out looking to get a piece of the pie. They also had that long to fix any shipping issues. Unfortunately, it looks like nothing much has changed.

After waking up at 6:45am local time, it was time to head to the nearest Target, in anticipation of the retailer-exclusive Rosalina & Luma. The realization quickly sunk in that there was a severe miscalculation, since Target didn't open until 8am. Despite that, as I pulled into the store parking lot, I noticed about 20 people camped out and already forming a line at the door. Unless they were there for bath towels, they looked to be in line for the Amiibo rush. When the store opened, a line formed around the cash register, where each person could claim one of each Amiibo. After about a dozen people, I picked up Rosalina & Luma and noticed there were only three left. I suggested that the worker should get the rest of the supply, but he told me that what I saw was the remaining supply. Same went for Bowser and the same was also the case for Toon Link, the last of which was sold out seconds before my turn came up.

I was staggered to look online and see that third wave Amiibos were not only selling out across all stores, but they were selling out within minutes. This was also the case for Sheik and Lucario, both of which were at the nearby Toys 'R Us. All Targets quickly sold out of Rosalina, Bowser, and Toon Link, meaning anyone that woke up even an hour late was already out of luck. Nintendo was clearly unable to meet this demand, either.

It's staggering that Nintendo has witnessed the consumer madness for Amiibo figures and has still been unable to keep up. The publishing giant saw the seeds of insanity sown after first announcing that Villager, Marth, and Wii Fit Trainer had been discontinued. Yet the second wave came along and was unprepared to meet the demand for characters like Captain Falcon and Little Mac, both of whom remain impossible to find. There was hope that the company would have been better prepared for the third wave, but those hopes were shattered within an hour.

The other aspect of the Amiibo phenomenon that has plagued Nintendo has been shipping snafus. Those that went searching for Pit were disappointed to see he was nowhere to be found. When asked by customers, workers at outlets like Toys R Us and GameStop informed them that shipments from Nintendo had been either delayed, canceled, or lost altogether. Pre-orders placed from GameStop or Amazon were either delayed or canceled altogether. The rollout had been a complete disaster, forcing consumers to pay outrageous prices on the secondary market.

Those thinking this would change were quickly disappointed by Best Buy, who were slated to release their retailer-exclusive Meta Knight Amiibo. The first person to notice this was Chatty's RevRaven, who heard from Best Buy that Nintendo reps had silently pushed Meta Knight's release back all the way to April.

The issues with Meta Knight's availability highlights the big problem with Nintendo's lack of preparation. As Mecha Tofu Pirate points out, the idea of Amiibo is presumably for Nintendo to showcase their new figure-based technology. They made Amiibo a major aspect of their most recent Nintendo Direct, revealing functionality for Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Mario Party 10, and Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. Just how is Nintendo supposed to demonstrate this tech to its fullest potential if its figures are this hard to find? Kirby and the Rainbow Curse hits this month, with Meta Knight's function revealed at the aforementioned Nintendo Direct, yet he's now slated to hit in April. Rosalina will have a dedicated game board in Mario Party 10, but her figure sold out in minutes and there's no indication that supply will be replenished anytime soon. Players will not get the opportunity to exercise these extras if the figures are not available unless they turn to secondary outlets like eBay and pay exorbitant prices. Worse for Nintendo, they will see none of this money. The secondary market does not benefit them in any way.

There's the old adage of "fool me once, fool me twice, etc.," but what happens when users feel jilted a third time by Nintendo's lack of preparation for the Amiibo rush? What's to say this won't happen again with the upcoming fourth wave or with the Super Mario Bros. line of Amiibo? What's to say customers that are searching for Toad (in hopes of his exclusive Captain Toad functionality) won't be left out in the cold, especially when retailers have already canceled pre-orders at a moment's notice in recent weeks?

High demand for the new hotness is good for Nintendo in the short term, but the appeal will only last for so long, especially if the customer base continues to get burned in this fashion. Nintendo may reap the short-term benefits of the customer clamor now, but if that hunger continues to go unsatisfied because of a lack of preparation, the House that Mario Built may be in for some more long-term consequences.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 2, 2015 12:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Opinion: Why Nintendo's lack of Amiibo availability is primed to hurt

    • reply
      February 2, 2015 12:24 PM

      I'm really hoping they fix this if they want the Amiibo concept to succeed. I have a feeling this is another half-hearted attempt at cashing in on someone else's idea.

      If they don't fix this I predict Amiibo is dead in a year with the next console/handheld announcement.

      • reply
        February 2, 2015 12:41 PM

        the fact that each amiibo only stores data for one game seems like a bigger dealbreaker.

        or rather, it seems like it should be one or the other: make them collectible but allow them to be used with any game, or make them widely available but lock them down that way

        but right now it's worst of both worlds. which is a pretty fucking Nintendo move!

    • reply
      February 2, 2015 12:25 PM

      They've quiet we confirmed, That they'd be re-releasing Little Mac, Marth etc etc it just may take awhile..

    • reply
      February 2, 2015 12:27 PM

      I really don't see what their plan is with these amiboobs. I get that they're collectibles or at least that collecting is an aspect but it's not like they gain more money by not meeting demand. If you want a rare MTG or pokemon card you buy boosters and hope you get lucky but it's not like you're going to spend more if the amigo you want isn't available. Just get some goddamn mi-gos on the shelves so people can buy them before they get sick of waiting and move on to the next thing.

    • reply
      February 2, 2015 12:33 PM

      Amiibos are a good idea, However it needs a little more time cooking. The full potential of them have not been seen or met yet. Even in Super Smash its not fully realized. More games need to support it, more things need to happen when you own one (which is the problem with optional doohickeys) and make your customers understand what it is they are getting in value when they do buy one. Right now they are nice collectibles, not much else.

    • reply
      February 2, 2015 12:36 PM

      A friend in Tennessee was able to pick up a second Rosalina and is shipping it to the other side of the country for me. The 30th I waited in line for Lucario at TRU, 15 minutes before the store opened an employee came out to inform us they only received 3 lucario for pre orders. I feel like the West Coast is getting snubbed hard on stock for exclusives, 5 Targets in the area(3 within 10-15 miles of eachother) and all sold out within opening. Right now I'm planning on just ordering from an international amazon once shulk and meta knight are in stock there. NA is the only area that got exclusives, so far it's a shit show that they better rethink.

    • reply
      February 2, 2015 12:58 PM

      The functionality that they offer amounts basically to DLC that unlocks stuff that the game shipped with, but with the downside that you have to physically go buy it and it isn't widely available. As a gamer, it sounds like a terrible system that I don't want any part in, and I don't understand why it hasn't been soundly rejected by the gaming press as bad for consumers.

    • reply
      February 3, 2015 7:13 AM

      Thank you for writing this! It was just nice to read something on the subject after being so frustrated by this ridiculous lack of amiibo availability. I don't even own a WiiU or 3DS- I just like the figures; I buy them and have a section of tabletop for all that I can get my hands on. But the day I read they're available for pre-order (ONE day after the article was posted here) they're already sold out???? Ugh!!!! Last time I asked, Gamestop couldn't tell me when Ness will be available for pre-order, so they just wanted me to keep coming back and checking? Like I don't have other things to do...The first time I asked when the Pac-man/Ness wave will be available at 3 Gamestops, they didn't even know what I was talking about...how do you work at a game store and your customers know more about what's coming than you do????
      Beyond that,I pre-ordered Sonic, Mega-man, King Dedede, Toon Link, and Ike from Gamestop back on DECEMBER 22, RECEIVED A CONFIRMATION EMAIL, then found out a week before release that my order apparently didn't go through!!!!! I want to say I'm done with this crap, but as mad as I am, I still want the figurines. PLEASE NINTENDO, RESTOCK STORES WITH THE CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE AMIIBOS...WE WILL BUY THEM!!!

Hello, Meet Lola