Are The Likes Of Skylanders and Amiibo Doing More Harm Than Good?

By Callum Thomson

As of May 2015, Nintendo has shipped 10.5 million Amiibos worldwide, and that alone has, by no means, fulfilled the insatiable appetite that gamers have for these collectables. On the other end, Activision and Disney are having their own little war of sorts between Skylanders and Disney Infinity, with Infinity edging out the competition for sales in 2014, but still losing out altogether to the now three-and-a-half-year-running franchise. Questionably, though, these figures are starting to take over certain areas of the gaming sphere, and seemingly starting to take over the Wii-U in its entirety. The question I’m asking here is are they going to do more harm than good to the gaming industry, where the need to continue buying collectables outweighs the quality of the games themselves?

A great number of individuals were thoroughly disappointed with Nintendo’s showing at E3, and you could be forgiven for thinking that those games revealed were sub-par and, altogether, a bit of a let-down. The biggest problem, however, is that Nintendo don’t take E3 seriously any more. They use it to showcase a few things, but they don’t put as much emphasis on it as, say, Sony or Microsoft. Regardless of this, one of the games revealed included a new Animal Crossing title. Those watching Nintendo’s digital showcase understandably got rather excited for the prospect of another world-building debt simulator, but were instantly let down to discover that it was, in fact, a glorified board game using, and you guessed it, Amiibo.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with Amiibo. I have had a long-standing understanding with the need/desire to collect things. I have known people to have obscene amounts of Pop Vinyl figures, for example; personally, I like to collect coins from other countries. Any form of collection is a money sink, and I get that, I really do. What I don’t get, and don’t really like from Nintendo’s usage of Amiibo is the fact that content is seemingly locked within games until you use a certain Amiibo with them. Nintendo has been glorified for ages for being a company who doesn’t lock DLC within their games, only to be released once the DLC pack has been obtained. But, in saying that, this seems to be the exact same idea wrapped around the idea of plastic figures that you collect.

Now, I’m not just going to sit here and bash the idea of these plastic figures, as the likes of Skylanders have utilised them fantastically. Granted, the need to own at least one of each element in order to complete the game 100% is a tad annoying but, overall, not a necessity to at least get to the end of the story, and so you can quite easily get by with just the starter pack. Amiibos also started life being bundled with Super Smash Bros for Wii U, and the idea that you could level up your individual Amiibo, take them over to your friends’ house and battle their individually levelled up Amiibo sounds like an absolutely fantastic idea. Disney Infinity does seem Disney’s way of just selling us more Disney-related figures to fill their coffers, but that’s just the company in a nutshell nowadays.

I like how these plastic toys started off life – a fun little collectible that you could use outside of the overall gaming experience. What I don’t like is what they’re turning into – an over-sensationalised money sink, mainly aimed at children so they bug their parents to death to buy them the next one (I worked in a gaming shop when Skylanders were first introduced, and trust me when I say that telling a parent and their child that the specific toy they were looking for is sold out, and watching the post disappointment aftermath is not a pretty sight). I also fear that, as Nintendo’s next console is being rumoured and talked about more and more, the Wii U could end up becoming an overly expensive gimmick for Nintendo’s own toy range.

Plastic collectibles aren’t out to kill the gaming market, and in actual fact should stay as a side project to the entire thing, but when games are starting to become more than dependent on the little plastic toys it may end up harming the likes of the Wii U more than actually helping it. I just want a new real Spyro game, goddamit. Collecting them is fine, and as long as kids aren’t being annoying little jeb ends crying/screaming/annoying their parents to buy the next one, then one could argue that they certainly have a place in this world.

Last five articles by GL Guest Writer


One Comment

  1. Chris Toffer says:

    Interesting article Callum. I knew very little about these until last weekend when one of the GL writers showed me a couple. They certainly look cool but in an age where, as a ‘hardcore’ gamer, I find myself lacking time and money, I can’t see myself investing in them. Which is strange, given how heavy I’ve invested in Nintendo in the last 25 years.

Leave a Comment