Nintendo has attributed its western success of its Amiibo figures partly to Activision’s Skylanders and Disney’s Infinity toys-to-life franchises, according to company president Satoru Iwata.
Speaking during Nintendo’s end of 2015 fiscal year earnings call, Iwata answered questions about the regional disparity for Amiibo sales and their attach rates to compatible games.
“When it comes to the figure and video game entertainment category, there are two exciting franchises: Activision released Skylanders four years ago, and Disney released Disney Infinity two years ago… However, before we actually launched Amiibo, the number of consumers who were aware of the overall concept of this product category, namely, toy figures are lined up on a store shelf in the video game section and when you buy and use it with a game, something very fun would happen, differed greatly in Japan from the rest of the world.”
The United States in particular already established a large toys-to-life market, however the category had “yet to sow results” in Japan. Japanese distributors initially dismissed Amiibo toys as being “a little too big in size” and too costly for a figure in the Japanese market, according to Iwata.
Despite this, Nintendo decided to go ahead and launch today’s Amiibo, saying it was “most appropriate for the global market.”
Nintendo has been “testing various forms of Amiibo other than plastic figures,” according to Iwata, in addition to the card-format Amiibo products which were first announced in an October 2014 earnings call.
The company has sold over 5.7 million Amiibos since they launched last year. Nintendo recently lowered the suggested retail price for select Amiibo figures from $12.99 to $9.99. A new wave of Amiibo is expected to come this month, including Charizard, Pac-Man and Lucina.