Nintendo Promises More Amiibo Stock, But Now What?

Nintendo amiibo

For Nintendo fans, the amiibo struggle has been an unparalleled phenomenon not seen since the Wii’s early days. Reports are known far and wide that certain figures of the popular toys have sold out, without the promise of restocks or availability. This has frustrated those who want complete collections or to use the figures for their in-game functionality. Following several weeks of silence and insensitivity to their fans, Nintendo has finally spoken out on the matter. Their apology has a lot of people still questioning the future of amiibo, but Nintendo has been down this track before.

We appreciate the enthusiasm that our fans continue to show toward amiibo. Sales for the product have exceeded our expectations. We understand how frustrating it can be at times if consumers are unable to find certain figures, and we apologize for that.

We’re trying to meet the demands of our fans and consumers by increasing the amount of amiibo we manufacture and ship to retail. We may continue to see consumer demand outpace supply levels for certain characters at times, but we will do our best to prevent that from happening.

As our library of amiibo continues to grow, some figures will be easier to find than others. We are constantly looking for the opportunity to reissue amiibo and are already making plans to bring back some currently out-of-stock amiibo figures. Stay tuned for details.

Nintendo plans to make it easier for consumers to know when new amiibo are on the way, through Nintendo press announcements, timely updates on our social media channels and working closely with retailers.

This is not the first time Nintendo has addressed amiibo’s popularity. Consider what happened back in December, when it was discovered that certain amiibo were selling out with no hope of return. Nintendo issued a non-committal response that promised only “certain” characters would be on store shelves long-term.

We will aim for certain amiibo to always be available. These will be for our most popular characters like Mario and Link. Due to shelf space constraints, other figures likely will not return to the market once they have sold through their initial shipment.

When this failed to satisfy, they hastily returned with the promise that certain amiibo “may” return later on (as with Marth, who’s restock was promised in January).

It is possible that some amiibo in the United States, Canada and Latin America may not be available right now due to high demand and our efforts to manage shelf space during the launch period, but may return to these markets at a later stage. We are continually aiming to always have a regular supply of amiibo in the marketplace and there are many waves of amiibo to come. The distribution and availability of amiibo in other regions around the world may be different.

In February’s investor call, Satoru Iwata offered further context, explaining that the restock of amiibo does not come easily, and they would consider it if the consumer and retail demand was large enough.

It is difficult for us to promise to continuously ship all of the amiibo figures. We will, however, consider additional production in cases such as when an amiibo figure sells out shortly after launch, an amiibo is indispensable to play a certain game, and when we receive a lot of requests for an amiibo figure from consumers and retailers.

Unlike games, amiibo cannot simply replenished with a light switch: one does not simply reissue amiibo. There are factors like manufacture time, storage costs, and worldwide allocation to consider. The problem extends all the way back to before amiibo came out, when no one predicted they would become a fad. Nintendo chose to overshoot the more mainstream characters while playing it safe on the niche characters.

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That’s partially why you see Mario on shelves everywhere but not selling, while the characters everyone wants (like Marth) were under-produced. Now, Nintendo is feeling the ramifications of overwhelming demand. That’s also why the retail exclusive figures exists. Nintendo doesn’t/didn’t think that anyone would want those figures, or they were too costly to produce, that agreements with a sole retailer like Target limits the number of figures made. Contrary to Nintendo’s belief, not one retailer exclusive has gone well, culminating in GameStop’s Ness crashing the store’s servers last month.

Meanwhile, another fan base of a certain product had it rough lately. Lily Pulitzer fans can now share some empathy with amiibo fans in the wake of a Target-exclusive product line. Lily Pulitzer is the late fashionita with considerable bend towards dresses. Like with amiibo, artificial scarcity was used when an exclusive product collection (including dresses, purses, and mugs) went on sale in late-April.

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Online, just as has happened with Wave 4 amiibo, the dresses caused Target’s website to crash under the load. In-store however, the Lily Pulitzer hunters couldn’t be more different. Whereas Nintendo’s amiibo fans are subdued and polite, the dress hunters were barbaric and vicious. Avarice trumped common sense, with reports of fighting and shoving multiple items into one cart were unfortunate side effects of the scarcity tactic. Many were left empty-handed, just like with the frenzy of a new amiibo wave.

Unlike Nintendo, the response from Target was swift and on-point. Their chief managing officer Kathee Tesija told CNBC that they woefully underestimated the demand for the Lily Pulitzer line, despite heavy promotion and ordering what they thought was a sufficient amount of product ahead of the launch. Target went on to apologize via Twitter. It wasn’t the best apology, but what matters is that they were swift to react.

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When amiibo brought GameStop, Target, and Toys R Us to their knees last month, it took Nintendo over a month to say anything about it. And unlike Nintendo’s plan to restock the rare figures, Target has no plans to do so with their Lilly Pullitzer line, with the dresses living up to their “limited” moniker.

But they did no favors when, Easter weekend, they tweeted out insensitive, tone-deaf Tweets about amiibo. No apologies for the frustrated fans, no assurances that more stock was coming, just a caustic tweet asking fans what their favorite amiibo was. The response was rather unkind.

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They’ve just now put out a response, and it’s not even 100% fail safe. Without definitive action planned out, Nintendo’s words about fixing amiibo are empty. The closest you’ll find to a plan is if you manually search the web for CPSIA certificates, a notice of manufacture. We’ve seen this creep along with rare figures like Marth, Ike, and Meta Knight set for a re-print in the months to come. But again, no word from Nintendo of America that these are coming. It took a Nintendo of Europe rep to say anything about a restock, and it took a fan in Germany to get the word out.

Soon enough, Nintendo will release their Q4 Financial Report, and no doubt amiibo will play a large part in not only their financial success, but in Satoru Iwata’s investor Q&A as well. There’s a lot to answer for with the muddled mess of amiibo selling, and it will be the ultimate test of whether Nintendo keeps their word to fix this ongoing supply/demand problem.

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Editor-in-Chief (Former)

A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.