Gaming Ethics Matters: Do You Like Nintendo’s NFC Action Figures?

Mario figureLast week Nintendo formally announced that they would be entering the "toys brought to life" business currently helmed by Skylanders and Disney Infinity. By using the Wii U's Gamepad and a yet to be released 3DS NFC reader, gamers will be able to interact with a series of collectible figurines in popular first-party franchises. Is this the kind of development  that can save the Big N's constantly sinking profits? Let's take a look at the facts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week Nintendo formally announced that they would be entering the "toys brought to life" business currently helmed by Skylanders and Disney Infinity. By using the Wii U's Gamepad and a yet to be released 3DS NFC reader, gamers will be able to interact with a series of collectible figurines in popular first-party franchises. Is this the kind of development  that can save the Big N's constantly sinking profits? Let's take a look at the facts!

 

 

Nintendo Has The Mascots

 

If you're entering the collectible toy business, the first thing you need is a series of interesting characters that people of all ages want to invest their hard earned money in. As far as that side of the issue is concerned, there are few companies in a better position than Nintendo. Over the past three decades, this hardware maker has crafted some of the most recognizable and beloved faces that this world has ever seen. In fact, at one point, Mario was more popular with young audiences across the United States than Disney's Mickey Mouse! Needless to say, there's no doubt that Nintendo's memorable mascots have had a pretty massive impact on us all.

 

 

Nintendo Characters

 

 

However, such strong character influence extends far far beyond who we find in the Mushroom Kingdom universe. Have we forgotten the hundreds of Pokemon toys that can now be made to interact with future game releases? Skylanders has had to work hard to create new characters as they go, but Nintendo can literally carry an entire brand based entirely on the mascots they currently have. From Zelda to Metroid and beyond, it's a list that never ends.

 

 

That being said, the toys brought to life market is getting a little bit crowded these days. Let's consider the competition on the next page!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is The Market Flooded?

 


Even with Nintendo's impressive character lineup, one has to wonder if the NFC toy market is too flooded for this endeavor to succeed. Skylanders has already been on the market for three years through eight different games, and Disney Infinity is primed and ready to celebrate its one year anniversary. That may not seem like a long time, but for collectibles, it's an eternity.

 

 

Skylanders Disney Infinity

 

 

Why do I say that? Because any new addition to that tightly-matched playing field must force existing customers of those other brands to spend money on them instead. Especially in the case of Skylanders, kids and their parents have already invested hundreds of dollars into a multi-platform backwards compatible franchise. A household only has so much money to spend, so will parents really be inclined to start throwing cash at Nintendo's an unproven collectible toy craze? In some ways, that would be like tossing a family's Skylanders progress out the window. It's not that Nintendo can't break those strong existing attachments, but it's certainly a problem they'll have to face going forward.

 

 

Also on the negative side, is that these these toys don't encourage Wii U sales either. Click ahead for an analysis on that complex matter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can Figurines Save Dying Hardware?

 

 

When pondering any kind of collectible, one thing a company has to consider is how to amass the largest audience possible. In light of that concern, the struggling Wii U isn't the only Nintendo console that will interact with these NFC-laced statues. As far as portables are concerned, 3DS is the undisputed king right now; and as such, that large (and still growing) mobile audience will likely be a huge part of the company's focus at launch.

 

 

WiiU sad

 

 

That's all well, and good, but it doesn't really do anything to help the hardware that needs it most. Folks that bought a Wii U are hungry for a reason to use it; and this doesn't seem like the kind of initiative that will offer a great solution to that problem. Sure these little plastic toys can theoretically hold a bunch of amazing mini-games, but is that truly enough to sell someone on an entire console? That's going to be an exceptionally hard sell when Skylanders titles are multi-platform and build off massive collections that folks have already paid for. 3DS is a great place to start this collectible push, but if Wii U sales stay stagnant, Nintendo won't put much toy focus there.

 

 

In spite of these issues, the live toy industry has proven to be a very profitable one. The massive money potential is my final major point!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Can Make Billions Of Dollars

 

 

As a company that's experienced a series of annual profit losses, Nintendo is looking for a quick way to make lots of money. In that regard, NFC collectibles is an industry that seems to have an almost never-ending cash flow. It hinges on the fact that young children become invested in these toys, and once they do, their parents will be headed to the store to buy a new one every single time their offspring performs a good deed. That premise alone has raked in billions of dollars. As far as I can see, it's a piece of financial pie that's well worth fighting for.

 

 

Luigi coins

 

 

Want some figures to quantify Nintendo's potential success? In just three years on the market, Skylanders has made over $2 billion dollars spread across 2 million toys. While it may not be quite as impressive, even Disney Infinity was able to muster selling three million starter packs in less than a year. In either case, there's tons of money to be made here; and Nintendo has the development and design talent to make good things happen. Will it be the rousing success that fans of the Big N are hoping for?

 

 

Those are the major sides of the argument, so find out what I think on the final page!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Viewpoint

 

 

As you can see, the NFC toy business is a pretty tough nut to crack. While there haven't been many noticeable flops or failures at this point, such an expansive venture can only be backed by large companies with limitless commitment to the cause. So far, Disney and Activision have proven to be the kinds of powerhouses that can get the job done. With its war chest of cash from decades in this industry, I would also throw Nintendo into that category as well.

 

 

gavel2

 

 

However, there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered before we know know for sure that the Mario makers efforts are truly worth it. Most importantly, how will these little plastic statues be used? All we know now is that they exist, but what will they do to enhance the games we love? Honestly though, there are so many great ways to leverage the power of NFC that I don't see an innovative developer like Nintendo struggling in that department. Maybe they'll be used to hold custom move sets for Super Smash Bros. What if they contained Virtual Console games? The possibilities seem endless, and all of them sound good to me. I don't know how effective these toys will be at solving the Wii U's problems, but they can sure boost Nintendo's overall profits.

 

 

Those are my thoughts, but what are yours? Is Nintendo smart to invest in the NFC toy market? Let me know in the comments section below!