Nintendo's toys-to-life concept - amiibo - has been a runaway success, with over 10 million figures being shipped worldwide and demand remaining robust throughout 2015. However, many collectors are beginning to question Nintendo's approach to amiibo, with every figure seemingly subject to crippling shortages and rising prices on the secondary market.
Speaking to investors at the recent Financial Results Briefing, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata at first recognised the incredible popularity of the amiibo range, outlining the tremendous commercial success it has enjoyed in its first year on sale:
We launched a new product category – amiibo – simultaneously with "Super Smash Bros for Wii U," and the end of the subject fiscal term marked a total shipment of approximately 10.5 million units worldwide. As we had shipped approximately 5.7 million units by the end of calendar year 2014, it is safe to say that we achieved very strong growth even in the period immediately after the year-end sales season was over. Our assessment is that people purchase additional amiibo figures without any seasonal bias, as they are relatively more affordable than video game titles.
He then tackled the real elephant in the room - amiibo shortages:
Our consumers have been inconvenienced by stock shortages on some of the figures in our amiibo lineup. We have increased production for amiibo figures that have sold out very quickly after launch, that are indispensable to play a certain game and for which we have received strong demand from retailers and consumers. However, we are very sorry that we can't promise at what point we will likely be able to resolve the current situation because figures such as these require a considerable amount of time to produce, store shelf space is limited and it is difficult to precisely predict the exact amount of overall demand.
Such comments might not reassure amiibo collectors, but Iwata's believes that as the range becomes even more popular, Nintendo will be in a position to anticipate increased demand and raise production accordingly:
On the other hand, the number of software titles compatible with amiibo is increasing and consumers' recognition and understanding for amiibo has improved significantly compared to the launch period, so we believe that we can predict further sales growth.
In the short term however, it would appear that there is no end in sight when it comes to annoying amiibo stock issues - but on the other hand, this success is a good indication that Nintendo has pinpointed a very profitable sector of the entertainment industry.