Struggling to find the amiibo you’re looking for is not a new story, as it was still happening as wave 4 pre-orders began last week.  Some customers have criticized Nintendo for their handling of the situation and the amount of stock they have supplied to stores, with some going as far to claim they are creating an artificial shortage to increase demand.

One customer, Brian Nelson, contacted Nintendo’s customer service directly regarding the problem and sent a copy of his conversation with a representative to Game Informer, who seemed to point the finger of blame to the stores.

Nelson wrote the following:

I would just like to express my disappointment with your handling of amiibo support, instead of taking preorders and making a supply to match, you have purposely created a shortage of characters and now games with features large amounts of players will never be able to access. Disney and activision have no problem assuring their customers get their toys to life figures. 

There’s no reason I should have had to wait in line for hours at gamestop yesterday, been the only customer in line and still have to walk away without the amiibo I wanted, you’ve known of the demand since wave one and still refuse to keep up with the demand for products. Why even make a product you have no desire to make sure people who want can get. You advertise compatible amiibo feature with games, yet don’t produce enough for people to even use them in the compatibile software. I hope you see the error of you production currently and offer some sort of solution soon.

The customer service representative responded to Nelson with an apology but failed to include specific details about the situation.

Thank you for writing. I apologize for the delay in our reply. I’m sorry to hear of your disappointment with the availability and distribution of amiibo, and would like you to know that we have documented and shared your concerns with the relevant departments here at Nintendo.

Additionally, I’d like to convey that we are aware of the popularity of amiibo and continually aim to always have a regular supply of amiibo in the marketplace. As stated previously, certain sold-out amiibo may return to your local retailer at a later stage. We apologize for any inconvenience you are experiencing now, and thank you in advance for your continued patience in this matter.

Nelson responded questioning the ability to find amiibo that are particular to unlocking special features in games, including the compatible amiibo for Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (King Dedede, Meta Knight) and Code Name S.T.E.A.M (Fire Emblem Characters). The representative said the following, placing the blame elsewhere:

While this may not be the answer you were hoping for, all of the issues you’re describing are retailer related. Nintendo has no input on when or how retailers sell our products, if or when new products are stocked, or when and how the retailer takes pre-orders. These decisions are made by retailers at the administration level. If you have concerns about these kinds of issues, we can only recommend contacting your retailer.

It may interest you to learn that Nintendo doesn’t ship products directly to retail locations. We take orders from distributors (who sell our products and products from other companies), and ship our products to their distribution centers. The distributors then take orders from retailers and ship these orders to the retailers’ merchandise centers. Once there, the retailers make all decisions about how to best sell this merchandise. They divide this merchandise up into smaller units and send them to retailers based on sales data.

Please also note that no amiibo have been discontinued at this time. We plan to have different amiibo available throughout the year, and characters which seem to disappear at one time will suddenly reappear in the future. This means that amiibo which are hard to find now will be back in stores.

What do you think of the comments made by the representative? The rep claims no amiibo are discontinued, which means we could see any or all of the characters return at some point in the future.

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  • XZero

    Everyone involved in the distribution chain points the finger of blame at someone else. Back in December-January, questions posed to retailers about Marth, Villager, and Wii Fit Trainer were often met with “We ordered more, but our distributor did not fill the order.” No one has spoken to or identified these distributors, who would almost certainly point the finger of blame squarely at Nintendo. Nintendo, in turn, has directed blame toward the retailers.

    I’m at a loss on the whole issue, though, and this is coming from a collector of all things amiibo. It is in a sense brilliant marketing from Nintendo’s part. Corporate silence and non-answers? Figures selling out and then going for multiple times their original value on the second-hand markets? Amiibo fans descending on and completely overwhelming major online retailers (amiibo literally, actually broke the GameStop website on the day Wave 4 preorders went live, and to make matters worse, only in-store computers could even VIEW these items)? Preorders lasting for under 2 minutes before selling out? All of this looks great to Nintendo.

    Angry consumers make little difference to Nintendo at this stage. What is really going to happen? Are consumers going to boycott the amiibo figures until Nintendo provides enough Ness and Little Mac to go around? Of course not. For everyone who takes the boycott stance, there are a dozen more who have been unable to secure their favorite characters waiting in the wings to jump into the amiibo game, so Nintendo’s sell-through numbers remain strong. If you want a complete collection of the Smash Bros. figures, you can talk big all you want, but you are not going anywhere except maybe taking a little chair outside your local Toys R Us to sit and wait on release day.

    Nintendo is a company plagued by great ideas and poor execution. Amiibo was not Nintendo’s idea. Skylanders and Disney Infinity predate it by years and by many accounts, those figures are better integrated into fewer games than amiibo are across the whole Nintendo library. But Nintendo has a cult-like following of fans who grew up on its products. These are 20- and 30-somethings who now have disposable income and are figuratively trying to throw it at Nintendo for figurine representations of their childhood.

    There are also the “amiibo as an investment” people. Some toss out the phrase “beanie baby” at them, but that argument lacks a solid foundation. Artificial rarity stemming from crazed collectors eventually burst the beanie baby bubble. Amiibo is different because these are figures of preexisting characters. That one bear beanie baby is just a bear beanie baby. But that Marth amiibo is a figurine of a character from Fire Emblem, which for some teens today was probably their first strategy RPG as a kid and likely resonates with them (plus his Smash Bros connection). So in 15-20 years’ time, the “rare 2014 first run Marth amiibo” on eBay will likely command a high amount of money when the kids today who are unable to get him have that disposable income. Amiibo are not like beanie babies; they are comparable to the late-1980s Nintendo figures, most of which featured Mario. In the 80s, they sold for about $3. Today, mint condition, new in box versions go for $40+. Amiibo use established characters, and to the “amiibo as an investment” people, that has all the makings of future returns on the investment.

    All of this is to say that Nintendo is fully aware of what is going on and is in full possession of the capacity to stop it. Wii Fit Trainer should be that figure at the bottom of a clearance bin that nobody wants, not a prized possession of amiibo collectors everywhere. But she is scarce, and scarcity drives up demand. Nintendo knows what it is doing, but as it swims through its cash like Scrooge McDuck, it also knows it has no motivation to ramp up production.

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