10 Years On, Is There a Future for Amiibo on Switch 2?
9 mins read

10 Years On, Is There a Future for Amiibo on Switch 2?


“No, I’m good with just Mario for now.”

That’s what I told the GameStop employee in November of 2014 when I was preordering Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the GameCube controller adapter to go with it, and one lone fireball-wielding amiibo figure. Oh, how little I knew. Nintendo was joining the toys-to-life market as its newly-announced amiibo figures were just weeks away from sitting next to Skylanders and Disney Infinity on store shelves.

I managed to avoid the entire toys-to-life craze up to this point, but that’s because Skylanders was aimed at younger kids and I’m not a Disney fanatic, so I never felt like I was part of the target audience. But when I — a lifelong Nintendo and Smash Bros. diehard — learned that Nintendo was making the Super Smash Bros. Melee intro video a reality with actual figures of the Smash fighters? Well, the target was instantly planted right on my chest, and my wallet and I felt like Ralph Wiggum on the bus: we were in danger.

I foolishly thought I’d stick with Mario and other select figures of my favorite Smash fighters, but it was only a matter of days before I was fully invested in the hunt, determined to end up with every last Smash Bros. amiibo on my shelf (Thanks in part to the antics on Nintendo Voice Chat at the time, which I’m sure many of you amiibo hunters out there can relate to).

But after 10 years, dozens of Smash Bros. amiibo, and hundreds of dollars spent, we’re sitting at what could be the final days of the amiibo collecting era. The long-awaited Sora amiibo is out today, finally completing the Super Smash Bros. set that kicked off amiibo to begin with. With no more traditional amiibo releases on the calendar beyond today, it begs the question: Is Nintendo finally moving on from amiibo? Or does the last one standing in the toys-to-life space have a chance to carry on to the next generation of Nintendo hardware?

Are Amiibo Tapped Out?

Now that Sora is out in the wild, we’re officially in uncharted territory for amiibo. The only two unreleased amiibo we know about are the Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong Power-Up Bands that are coming to Super Nintendo World’s DK expansion. Even though the Power-Up Bands function as amiibo when used on Nintendo Switch, they aren’t marketed as such, and you have to travel all the way to Universal Studios to buy them, so I have a hard time counting them as upcoming amiibo releases. For one of the first times since this all started in 2014, we truly don’t know what’s coming next.

On top of the uncertainty of future releases, amiibo support has been noticeably absent from Nintendo’s recent first-party games. I’m shocked Nintendo didn’t release any new amiibo alongside Super Mario Bros. Wonder given the huge popularity (and memeability) of Elephant Mario, and there wasn’t even any built-in use for pre-existing figures, either. Amiibo functionality was a staple in first-party Nintendo games for most of the Switch era, but it’s dwindled over time, and a mainline Mario game completely forgoing support feels like a sign that amiibo are on the way out.

There’s also no word on support for Nintendo’s 2024 games like Mario vs. Donkey Kong or Princess Peach Showtime. And it’s not for lack of opportunity – the Mini Mario toy and each of Princess Peach Showtime’s 10 transformations seem tailor-made for amiibo, but it doesn’t seem like that’s really a priority for Nintendo anymore. Strangely, though, Nintendo is restocking several hard-to-find amiibo figures from the last few years, proving that at least somebody at the company still has amiibo in mind.

Amiibo are also a much smaller portion of Nintendo’s revenue today than back when the toys first launched amidst the Wii U’s infamous struggles. Throughout Nintendo’s financial problems in 2015 and 2016, amiibo were consistently a high point of the company’s earnings reports, serving as a vital chunk of revenue while Wii U failed to bring in profits.

Fast-forward to 2024 and it’s a much different Nintendo than it was a decade ago, as the company is swimming in cash thanks to record-breaking console sales, software successes, box office numbers, and theme park openings. In its latest financial results, Nintendo revealed that from April 2023 through December 2023 amiibo accounted for less than 2% of its overall video game business, and that’s not even taking into consideration the money Nintendo brings in on its movies, theme parks, and other merchandise. Nintendo clearly doesn’t need amiibo anymore, and it’s possible that as the Nintendo Switch life cycle (hopefully) winds down, amiibo could trail off with it.

But speaking of Nintendo’s mysterious next hardware, I don’t think it’s impossible that amiibo live on to see their third console generation. Nintendo generally cares about backwards compatibility, sometimes going to great lengths to ensure that last generation’s software is still playable on the newest machine. This has led to hardware quirks like a GBA cartridge slot on the DS and GameCube controller ports and memory card slots on top of the Wii.

If the Nintendo Switch 2 (as we’re calling it) is backwards compatible with Nintendo Switch software — which I would bet a lot that it will be — I don’t think Nintendo would ditch the NFC technology that makes scanning amiibo work. If Switch 2 lacks NFC, then amiibo features in backwards compatible Switch games would suddenly be obsolete and inaccessible, and that doesn’t strike me as something Nintendo would let happen. So, if NFC is included in Switch 2’s controllers, it leaves the door open for new amiibo figures to launch in the future.

That being said, would anyone really care if amiibo lost their functionality? Personally, I’m sure I’ve never even scanned at least half the figures in my collection, as I’ve always cared about the cool Nintendo characters on my shelf far more than any in-game item unlocked by the amiibo tap. And I know I’m not alone in that — most collectors I know are in it for the high-quality, relatively low-priced Nintendo figures, or because they’re in too deep to call it quits now.

Amiibo never saw their full potential from a software standpoint, and there was no killer app that forced fans to rush out and buy a ton of figures. Despite that, amiibo have thrived – or at least survived – for a decade now, where other toys-to-life franchises like Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and LEGO Dimensions died years ago. Ubisoft even tried to rope in Nintendo fans by crossing over with Star Fox in its short-lived Starlink: Battle for Atlas toys-to-life experiment, but it went down in flames faster than Slippy Toad’s Arwing on Corneria. While others have come and gone, amiibo have continued to sell thanks to the popularity of Nintendo’s characters and brand, even when the in-game rewards have been mostly insignificant.

So, maybe there’s a market where amiibo can continue even if Nintendo completely removes the in-game tie-ins, and they can purely exist as cool figures for Nintendo superfans to collect. Nintendo has come a long way in recent years in embracing the appeal of its characters outside of video games, and partnerships and licensing deals with companies like LEGO and Hot Wheels mean there are more Nintendo toys on shelves than ever before. So even if amiibo’s time is coming to a close, they’ll always represent the root of Nintendo’s merchandise expansion.

As a huge amiibo collector, I’m sad to write that I feel the end of amiibo is upon us, and I’m hoping it can somehow stick around during the transition to Switch 2. Keeping up with amiibo was a huge part of my Nintendo fandom during the extended software droughts of the Wii U era, as it was a way to maintain my connection with Nintendo and its characters while the future of the company was in serious question. If it is time to turn the page, maybe it’s for the best, as I’m pretty much out of shelf space at the moment. But hey, I could always buy another shelf!

Logan Plant is IGN’s Database Manager, Playlist Editor, and frequent Super Ninfriendo on Nintendo Voice Chat. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.



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