Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Amiibo Craze: A Smart Turn for Gaming

Amiibo Wii U Mario Party 10

Anyone who is part of the Nintendo Gaming Community has seen the tiny figurines known as Amiibo. At first glance, Amiibo might seem like a rip-off. Few people want to spend more money than necessary on a single game. However, when we look at Amiibo and similar merchandise, could the production of such items actually be a smart decision for the gaming culture?

If you don't know, Super Smash Bros. is not the first game to make use of Amiibo. Other games that are featured on Nintendo consoles, such as Skylanders and Disney Infinity use a similar mechanic. While Skylanders has it's own unique set of figures, Disney makes use of popular characters from television and movies. I'm not necessarily a fan of these figures, but if you were someone who loved Disney, imagine how much of a blessing this game would be?

So if we think of it in that sense when it comes to Amiibo, the appeal is obvious. Super Smash Bros. has a wide variety of characters, and almost everyone who plays the game has one as their favorites. Although every character does not have an Amiibo yet, sources have found Amiibo data many members of the cast so far. It's safe to assume that we will see figures of every character eventually.

Neptunia Producing Perfection
Here's an example of extra merchandise included with video games from Neptunia Producing Perfection.

In my opinion, I feel that although Amiibo has elevated to a sort of shopping craze, I think that the production of them is a very smart turn for gaming. The pros simply outweigh the cons. To begin, gamers get figurines of their favorite characters along with the opportunity to use them in the game. I think this is one of the major reasons why Amiibo have become so popular. It's similar to the way many video games have begun including limited edition items with their games.

In the past, many people would literally just buy games for...the games. There wasn't really any added bonus to buying a disc or cartridge than to play the game. Now, we're gifted with an extra such as posters, artbooks, soundtracks, figurines, and even things like dakimakura. Other things like DLC are nice, but they're somewhat like a one time use item.

Amiibo takes the qualities of both downloadable content (DLC) and merchandise, then combines the two, allowing gamers to have their DLC and their physical items. The thought of having an item that could be considered an addition to the game is great, but you get one that can be repeatedly used over the course of time in many games, which makes the small cost of buying one worth it.

Amiibo Mario Kart 8
Amiibo also allow the option of unlocking additional features in games, like outfits in Mario Kart 8.

On the other hand, mechanics like this can appeal to casual gamers. Not everyone plays to become a tournament pro; they just sometimes want to have fun. So Amiibo can somewhat add to this casual factor, as when it comes to Smash Bros. most of their additional features don't have much use in tournament play.

I think this is a key factor to think about when designing a game. Many games were made with competitive players in mind, such as most fighting games. However, they sometimes forget about the casual part of their audience, and they feel a little bit left out. It's hard to appeal to every audience, but casual gamers make up a good amount of the gaming community, so it's best not to put them off.

When it comes to this topic, I've seen many people simply like to watch their Amiibo play each other, like they were originally designed to do. Others use them as a training partner, because they can be a very formidable opponent. Although there have been cases of Amiibo entering tournaments which is a little hilarious, a lot of their use goes into casual play.

One Piece Amiibo
Amiibo have even made their way into games that aren't Nintendo based, such as the One Piece series.

Lastly, I think that in the end, Amiibo are great marketing tools. While this isn't really focused on the audience's side of the craze, it's still something that's important to examine. I like to look at Amiibo as a method producers can use to their advantage.

For one, it's a medium for publicity. Even people who aren't fans of Nintendo games, may have seen Amiibo. The fact that there is merchandise of Nintendo based characters, alerts the public of the character's existence, the game's existence, and most importantly, the company's presence. Similar to how Apple marks their merchandise with their signature logo.

Amiibo also generate a good source of income in addition to game itself. Although they cost around 12.99 dollars, which isn't too much, when bought in bulk that amount can add up. When it comes to total income, any little amount can benefit greatly. The best thing about this though, is that while the gamers are benefiting the company is as well, making Amiibo a factor to a great equal relationship.

It can even make game design more unique and interesting. Mario Party 10 was announced to have Amiibo specifically for their game, with the inclusion of Toad, a character who hasn't had the chance to make an appearance as a figure. As long as Nintendo keeps the Amiibo concept in mind, any game that is newly made can have Amiibo compatibility, making it an endless mechanic that will make other games and consoles pale in comparison.

Amiibo Smash Bros.

So in summary, I think the inclusion of Amiibo and the craze that follows behind them is a smart turn for gaming. Although at first they may seem a little silly and many may not want to pay the extra cost, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Gaming is becoming smarter as technology progresses, and the introduction of Amiibo is just the start.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please comment, I want to hear your voice!