In an interview with Time, new Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima talked about the future of the company and that future looks like it will include more Amiibos. The small NFC-enabled statues unlock content in a variety of games, acting like physical DLC. Some people enjoy the figures, but others dislike the idea of Nintendo's toys-to-life strategy. Nintendo recent release of Xenoblade Chronicles X was completely Amiibo-free, leading some players to hope that was a part of Nintendo's future. Instead, the company looks to be going in the opposite direction.
"I think again that challenge is, how can we connect that IP to our software in general, and using the Amiibo to further enhance the play activity will allow us to get more people looking at, they see the Amiibo, they tie it back to the game experience, and then we're creating a stronger connection with general knowledge of our IP and that fun experience they have," said Kimishima.
Nintendo's president hits on the truth of the Amiibo consumer base. Most players are buying them for collectible purposes. I've picked up a few Amiibos for my favorite characters, but I've never actually used one in-game.
"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."
This points to more Amiibo hooks in Nintendo's titles, possibly extending beyond the extra costumes and items that currently categorize the line. Downloadable or unlockable content can be done well or done poorly; Nintendo's use of DLC for Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros has been rather solid. Sadly, most of the Amiibo hooks have been somewhere in-between "oh, that's cool" and a weak shrug.
Of course, the question is: What does creating a stronger connection with Amiibo entail? Amiibo availability has been getting better, but the first time someone wants something in their favorite game, but can't find it because the Amiibo is out of stock, you're asking for a ton of frustration. I'm not sure what's the winning situation for Nintendo here, but I look forward to the company's solution.