Monday, July 21, 2014

The Impact of Nintendo’s Amiibo Figurines

amiibo figurines
Image credit: technobuffalo.com
Nintendo’s E3 announcement of their amiibo figurines has certainly generated some positive buzz for Nintendo. Designed as smart toys in the shape of some of your favorite, familiar Nintendo characters, amiibo toys are imbedded with a chip that will store gamer information and unlock special features when you use them. We’ve seen this before from the likes of Disney Infinity, for example, but the main difference here is that amiibo figures will be useable in a variety of games, giving Nintendo the chance to bring in a whole new customer base interested in a cohesive, personalized gaming experience. What if this tactic was carried over to some non-Nintendo companies? It’s easy to look at the potential this could have across multiple games from the same developer. In this post, we consider the possibilities.*

Rockstar is the first company that comes to mind. While these game developers are most famously known for their genre-defining third person sandbox games in the Grand Theft Auto series, they’ve also dipped their toes in other games like the Red Dead series. Imagine if zooming around a bustling metropolis in Grand Theft Auto with a high degree of driving precision could allow you to more easily explore the Old West on horseback in Red Dead Redemption.

We can imagine a game developed by Bioware where your previous skills of persuasion and likeability in Mass Effect could give you a leg up on conversational skills in the new game. Same goes for any battle elements. Good with technical things like hacking computers and controlling droids in the ME universe? Maybe that translates to better lockpicking skills in Dragon Age.

What about a Bethesda series of figurines? (Hint hint – We know a company that makes those!) Your proficiency with a pistol in Fallout New Vegas could transfer over to ranged weapons like bows and arrows in Skyrim, or your sneaking skill in Dishonored could improve your stealthy ability to steal items in Fallout.

The overall thought is that amiibo looks like a pretty neat way for Nintendo to encourage cross-franchise gaming. It’s a fun spin on the achievement/trophy/DLC craze while remaining uniquely Nintendo. How successful it ends up being will certainly have an impact on competing video game developers. But will it stick as an industry-wide practice? Just look how head-over-heels the gaming industry became with motion control after the Wii was introduced only to almost completely abandon the peripheral down the road. Amiibo has us here at Symbiote Studios excited, though! Nothing wrong with more gaming figurines.

*One thing we should keep in mind is that Wii U currently has no trophy/gamerscore functionality like what we see in PlayStation and Xbox. Our ideas dismiss game achievements and DLC packs and look more at cross-game player benefits.