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So Are Amiibo Nintendo's Take on Pay-to-Win?

Both Super Mario Odyssey and Metroid: Samus Returns use amiibo to help players complete games.

News by Matt Kim, .

Here's an observation: While watching the Super Mario Odyssey portion of today's Nintendo 3DS and Switch livestream, there's an interesting trend with Nintendo and amiibo lately. Basically, in a soft way, amiibo are becoming Nintendo's take on pay-to-win type systems.

In Super Mario Odyssey, players can hunt for Power Moons which you'll need to collect to progress in the game. Some are in obvious places, or rewarded for defeating enemies while others are apparently really well hidden. There are ways in-game to find them like asking Toad for hints, but players can opt to purchase an amiibo that will unlock more hint generating characters.

While I don't think Super Mario Odyssey will be impossible to beat without amiibo support, the concept of paying for additional content to help players complete the game is essentially what the pay-to-win situation is all about in other games. The only difference is that Nintendo's system gives players a collectible figure as well.

Metroid Samus Returns amiibo unlocks hints and a new Fusion Mode

This is similar to a feature in Metroid: Samus Returns where the Metroid amiibo will unlock a hint service that will locate the nearest Metroid. Again, this isn't necessary to complete the game, but given that the point of Samus Returns is to defeat all the Metroids in the game, it is something that helps players finish the game.

Nintendo already drew some controversy with the amiibo support in Samus Returns after locking Fusion Mode behind an amiibo, which is separate from a Hard Mode that will unlock for all players upon completion. Still, it is a feature that players won't have access to unless they pay extra which makes it closer to product-based DLC than a pay-to-win system.

The hint generation unlocked by purchasing separate amiibo is crossing into weird territory however, and is a very Nintendo-like approach to a game system that's steadily becoming more common in modern games. While Nintendo's approach isn't exactly pay-to-win, it is interesting that amiibo are now acting as Nintendo's physical DLC unlocks.

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Comments 7

  • Avatar for Frosty840 #1 Frosty840 2 months ago
    >The only difference is that Nintendo's system gives players a collectible figure as well.

    While I appreciate that many people collect and cherish these figures I'm definitely not one of them so for me it's not so much "gives" as "unreasonably burdens with, at an overly inflated price", among other complaints.
    I feel less unenthusiastic about the world of horse armours than I used to (despite Bethesda's creeping "paid mods" weirdness), but wow, Amiibos really aren't a happy place for me to go to.
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  • Avatar for LK4O4 #2 LK4O4 2 months ago
    "Pay-to-win" is a harsh, dirty phrase in multiplayer games because it means your game is a straight up unfair competition.

    So it's really strange to hear it used to refer to something in Mario Odyssey (a single-player game) where buying character buffs or hints or whatever doesn't break the game for anyone but you.
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  • Avatar for DrCorndog #3 DrCorndog 2 months ago
    It's not really comparable to "pay to win" schemes, because neither of these are competitive multiplayer games, and because the info they give can easily be found for free on GameFAQs. I'm more concerned that the amiibo unlocks have become so lame. We used to get CPU-controlled fighters and character costumes. Now we get...hints and health refills.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #4 Roto13 2 months ago
    It will be Nintendo's take on pay-to-win when it gives people an unfair advantage in multiplayer.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #5 link6616 2 months ago
    A big complaint with the early amiibo was the rewards are too trivial. The complaint with the now is the rewards are too much. Finding a sweet spot for them is proving to be a real challenge.
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  • Avatar for PsychicPumpkin #6 PsychicPumpkin 2 months ago
    I'm a collector so I don't mind, except when they're super limited exclusives like the last wave of Zelda amiibo.
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  • Avatar for Lord-Bob-Bree #7 Lord-Bob-Bree 2 months ago
    Having to buy a figure for things like this seems like it isn't too tempting. Unlike straight-out buying hint or powerup microtransactions, these are not so immediate.
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