Anytime new Amiibo figures become available for preorder, many of Nintendo’s biggest fans rush to websites and stores like Toys ‘R’ Us and GameStop to get their orders in. But time and again, the demand outstrips the supply for many of the figures, leaving fans empty-handed and disappointed. Fans have been very vocal about their outrage, but the company appears to have no plans to change its tactics.
For the uninitiated, Amiibos are figurines of video game characters that can interact with certain Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games. The effect Amiibos have depends on the game, but they often unlock a new costume, item, or power-up your characters can use as you play.
In an ideal world, Amiibos would be fun to collect and enjoyable for Nintendo fans to use. In actuality, getting your hands on the Amiibos you want is often a major headache.
Problems with Amiibo shortages go back to the launch of the first wave of Amiibos in November 2014, but the most recent incident occurred on April 2, when preorders for the fourth wave of Amiibo figures went live.
Things started off badly when GameStop.com went down under the strain of people trying to preorder Amiibos. The company put up an “under maintenance” notice along with a statement sending customers to its physical stores to lock in their Amiibo preorders. That plan failed, too, as GameStop’s point-of-service sales system collapsed under the weight of all the orders coming in at once.
Eventually the system came back online, but many customers tweeted that they had to wait in line for over an hour to secure their preorders. And while they were waiting, some of the Amiibos sold out.
The Amiibos that sold out the fastest were the two retailer-exclusive Amiibos. The Target exclusive Jigglypuff Amiibo suddenly appeared on retailer’s website at 10 a.m. EST on April 2. The news shot across social networks and the figure sold out within 30 minutes, before many people on the West Coast had even woken up.
A similar thing happened with the Toys ‘R’ Us-exclusive Greninja figure. The company said preorders would be available between 7 and 9 a.m. on April 2. But out of nowhere, the preorder became available at 3 a.m. and sold out within 15 minutes, leaving the overwhelming majority of fans without a hope of preordering Greninja.
The obvious problem here is that Nintendo isn’t making enough Amiibos to meet the demand. Predictably, a thriving secondary market has cropped up on auction sites like eBay, where some Amiibo figures sell for many times their retail value. Worse, so-called “poachers” now scoop up as many Amiibos as they can in hopes of selling them for a profit, which drives up demand even further.
Some supply and demand problems are to be expected, but Nintendo doesn’t seem very keen to correct the issue. We’re now on the fourth wave of Amiibo releases, and each one has suffered from the same problems. Because Amiibos seem to be getting only more popular, the fourth wave has been the worst so far.
It’s possible that Nintendo underestimated how popular Amiibos would be in the U.S. with the first wave. And when Nintendo began issuing retailer-exclusive figures several waves ago, some stumbles were to be expected.
But for the same problem to crop up again and again with each new wave of Amiibos is unacceptable. Nintendo needs to make it right, either by increasing production on future waves or by re-issuing the most sought-after figures.
The people most affected are the most diehard fans. If Nintendo loses those, as it seems to be doing, it’ll be in trouble.
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- The 7 Best Wii U Video Games Released So Far
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