Amiibo Stock Atrophy: Critical Oversight by Nintendo?
The excitement was palpable. My copy of SSB still exuding the odour of fresh plastic, the cartridge sliding almost autonomously into its place with a satisfying click. In peals of unrepentant acclamation, the frame of thought most indigenous to all die-hard Nintendo fans, I ran, skipped and sauntered to my local Gamestop – the next logical step was of course, the Metroid fan that I am, to procure my very own Samus Amiibo.
You can imagine then my despondency when, with the eager solicitude of a much enthralled fan, I asked my friendly local Gamestop attendant to bring forth a Samus Amiibo, to which he looked me dead in the eye and said, gravely, almost apologetically, “She’s gone”. “What? Why? For how long?” The questioning began. “I don’t know bud, we have plenty of Mario though” was the unsatisfactory reply. As I looked with solemn, Stoic acquiescence out at the remaining ebullient plumbers, indeterminate pink blobs and over-dressed simians, my heart sank. Upon further interrogation and research, it would seem the shortage is pandemic.
Notorious for their distinct lack of reciprocity when it comes to merchandise supply, Nintendo is at it again. Manufactured shortages and stock manipulation with the intention of increasing demand for unique, limited run gaming impedimenta is a well known behavior of one of gaming’s oldest and most capricious chieftains. But what began, in the time of the Power Glove and the Yellow N64, as a successful marketing gambit has since become vexing at best, with shortages of the latest Super Smash Bros and compatible accessories – nominally Amiibo figurines and the Gamecube adapters – provoking fresh critique of Nintendo’s stock manipulation techniques. Is this poor planning or an intentional imposition
of stock famine? That’s largely the domain of speculation and conjecture, either way though, the wallet of fans is the fall man in this particular scheme.
UK retailer GAME is one of many outlets capitalizing on stock scarcity, with prices rising by as much as 3 pounds, according to NintendoLife readers. Other sources have reported die-hard fans being driven to pay extortion rates of up to $95 on eBay for stand-alone Gamecube adapters in the US due to a woeful lack of supply. Twitter has been inundated recently with an outpouring of disappointment from fans following a recent mass cancellation on Amazon of Smash Bros Wii U and Amiibo figurines, with Amazon.co.uk stating in emails from the customer service department “Our supplier has informed us that this item is no longer available”. With SSB creator Masahiro Sakurai declaring the latest game a swan song for the franchise in a recent interview with Game Informer, I can’t help but feel that many fans will be left with a bitter aftertaste of their favorite beat em up buffet if Nintendo doesn’t make significant progress in palliating consumer grievances with stock scarcity.
The game itself inexorably has a long life ahead of it, in spite of Sakurais explicit negation of DLC hopes in the wake of the Mewtwo experiment. Let’s hope that the latest, ostensibly greatest and possibly last SSB can overcome these incipient supply hiccoughs to be remembered for its formulaic innovations and slick design, not for the fact that many fans – myself included – have been forced into feats of economic and crowd-sourcing athleticism to enjoy this perennial classic.