Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime has signalled his belief that the company’s upcoming figure range, amiibo, will have a “significant impact” on Wii U sales.
“I think amiibo can have a significant impact on driving the install base for Wii U on the sales of figures themselves,” Fils-Aime discussed with Polygon. “I think this could be a significant business opportunity.”
He continued, reasoning why it has taken Nintendo so long to create their own range after the success of Skylanders and Disney Infinity: “One, we wanted to be thoughtful in our approach. In our view, going down this path you have to have differentiation.
“Second, we wanted to make sure that we would launch the concept with a big franchise, and certainly Smash (Bros.) fits that bill. Smash is really perfect. All the various characters, the gameplay that Mr. Sakurai has created is fantastic. So for us it was really making sure we had the right approach and the right method to launch it.”
Fils-Aime confirmed that amiibo will launch alongside Super Smash Bros. for Wii U this winter, with a range that will include around 10 figures.
“We will continue to make new figures available through the balance of holiday 2014 and then we’re going to continuously launch new figures throughout 2015,” he clarified. “For us, we’re not putting a numerical limit on how many varied figures we can launch. Our potential catalog of figures in the space is quite broad.
“Even a figure like Marth, which, from a broad population, may not be well known but for that Smash playing audience, they know Marth. A lot of them enjoy playing as Marth. And then we believe that, given the lineup of figures, we’re going to have a more diverse ownership base, not only male and female (because of Peach and Yoshi that appeal to girls) but also from an aging up standpoint because people are going to want to collect Samus. You’re going to have people who want to collect Link, all these fantastic characters. So we think our footprint is going to be much larger than what the other people in this space have been able to accomplish.”
One concern is that while amiibo will be compatible across multiple games, Nintendo have chosen not to showcase them within a standalone game at launch.
“What I would tell you is that we do believe the cross-game play is a big advantage for us,” Fils-Aime affirmed. “And having a Mario figure that could be potentially used in not only Smash Bros. but also in Mario Kart as well as in Mario Party 10. We think that’s a pretty strong competitive advantage.
“The specifics of the gameplay will be unique to the game, and it is really up to the developer to program. So you will have a developer create a mechanism like what Mr. Sakurai is doing, where it really is a leveling up mechanic. And you’ll have other developers taking different approaches. You might have a developer decide, you know what, I want to reward someone who has purchased multiple Mario games, and that really has given Mario uber powers. That’s the way he’ll program it.”