Last year, Nintendo needed a game changer more than anything. The video gaming giant found that game changer in the form of the Nintendo Amiibo figurines. Between Activision’s Skylanders and Disney Interactive’s Disney Infinity, the toys-to-life video game properties are now a hot ticket. It was a no brainer for Nintendo to get on the toys-to-life train with the Amiibos because Nintendo has quite the library of beloved digital icons that make for great toys and figurine collectibles. Nintendo closed out 2014 strong with its release of Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS. However, the company took things a step further with the release of the Amiibo figurine line. According to a Nintendo press release, the total sales of Amiibo in 2014 were almost twice the sales of the popular Super Smash Bros. game in 2014. To put that in perspective, Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo Wii U console sold over 1.3 million copies last year, and the Amiibo sales doubled that. The tremendous sales for the Amiibo line are far from surprising.
The fact is that Nintendo’s first-party games and characters are iconic and classic characters. Mario from Super Mario Bros., Link from The Legend of Zelda and many more are global video game icons. So, the making of figurines of the definitive designs of the characters that are interactive with games, was a winning strategy. Old school fans like the figurines for their innate collectability and probably their display value. The Amiibos make great display tools. Kids want to use the Amiibos for their video games. So the Amiibos get a demographic all across the age spectrum. Of course, one can imagine the Amiibos out-pacing the sales of Super Smash Bros. surpasses all expectations Nintendo had for the line.
For the month of December, Best Buy (via Gamasutra) revealed that Amiibo sales surpassed Activision’s Skylanders and matched Disney Interactive’s Disney Infinity toys. The Skylander toys are fun, and the characters are definitely appealing. However, many of the Nintendo characters in the Amiibo have been around a lot longer and are much stronger established brands. The Amiibo line is definitely benefited by the presence of the Pokemon franchise, which is a whole separate iconic brand that Nintendo is able to exploit with Amiibo. The incorporation of third-party icons into the Amiibo line with Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man will only further improve Amiibo sales.
The third wave of Amiibo figures is due out in February. The Super Mario series that recently announced and hits the shelves in March. The next Super Smash Bros. series is due out in April.