Nintendo's amiibo lineup has certainly been a case of ups and downs. The popular collectible figures have generated some handsome profit for the company and it seems that more figures are launching all the time. However, amiibo have been plagued by stock issues ever since they've launched and it could certainly be argued that the software benefits they add haven't quite lived up to the initial promise. Regardless of where you stand on amiibo, the toys are showing no signs of slowing down.
Venture Beat recently quoted a few game industry analysts, getting their opinions on amiibo and how they relate to the toys to life industry as whole. Satori Bernbeck – an analyst from EEDAR - made a good point of how amiibo have in a sense made up for the Wii U's sales failures. Due to how the company has been selling less units than desirable, it's come up with a clever way of squeezing more money out of its limited install base.
Since the Wii U has been lacking in widespread appeal, given its lower sales numbers, Nintendo needed to find a way to further monetize their core consumer base. amiibo have done just that; Nintendo reported in late October that they had shipped over 21 million amiibo worldwide. As they sell through this holiday season, that represents over $270 million in revenue for Nintendo. This product line shows no immediate sign of slowing down, so it will likely remain a key additional revenue source for Nintendo in 2016.
Another point raised was how the toys to life market doesn't seem to have reached the point of oversaturation. With toys from Disney Infinity, Skylanders, amiibo, and Lego Dimensions all on shelves, one would think that it's getting to be a bit much – especially considering the cumulative cost – but Bernbeck doesn't think so.
Despite the growing number of competitors, the toys-to-life space has not yet shown sign of fatigue or cannibalization. amiibos have helped continue to grow the market with its approximate $270 million in revenue — other toys-to-life products haven't seen decline.
However, amiibo still have room to grow. The products were originally supposed to be collectible figures focused around the concept of having software benefits in multiple games, but you could argue that the software aspect of them has largely fallen by the wayside; they mostly just unlock skins or other minor bonuses. Tatsumi Kimishima – Nintendo's new president – recently touched on that in an interview, implying that this may change in the future.
A challenge that we're facing right now is, our earliest goal for the amiibo was to have these connected to software and have them enhance the play experience for the consumer, and for other consumers to say 'I see my friend using this amiibo with that software and it looks great,' and again increase that attractiveness of that combination. What we're seeing instead is that the amiibo are being picked up more as a collection item at this point, rather than, say, as an interactive item with software. And so we haven't really established them as an enhancement for all of our software at this point.
For the full breakdown, check out the article here.
What do you think? Would you like to see amiibo have more software benefits? What do you think of amiibo as a whole? Share your thoughts in the comments below.