Nintendo has released a new product for the holiday season – a collection of figurines in the likeness of some of Nintendo’s most notable characters that will interact with the company’s Wii U console. Nintendo also released the latest installment of the Super Smash Bros. video game, a top-selling franchise for the company. The Amiibo figures will interact with the game while the user is playing it. The new figures allow the company to get more mileage out of its most popular characters, like Mario and Luigi.
The Amiibo figures are Nintendo’s entry into the toys-to-life market, a market that increased by 22 percent, to $425 million, in the United States in the 12 months that ended on October 14. With its entry into the toys-to-life market, Nintendo is competing directly with Disney and Activision Blizzard, the current leaders in the market. Nintendo has a big advantage in the new market it is entering – a stable of iconic characters that are recognizable to multiple generations.
Other companies have tried to enter the market with limited success. Mattel’s Apptivity was short lived, as was Hasbro’s Telepods, an app that married its toys with Rovio’s Angry Birds franchise. Lego Fusion, which lets children to build plastic brick buildings that can be incorporated into a mobile app, has been better received by consumers. Lego is currently the world’s largest toy company by revenue.
Nintendo reported a profit in its latest results, but that is after a long string of expensive losses for the company. More consumers are choosing to do their gaming on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Many mobile games are initially free, giving the players the option to pay money for upgrades and special features after they have decided that they like playing the game.
Over the years, the company has also lost considerable market share to Microsoft and Sony, makers of the Xbox consoles and PlayStation consoles respectively. Sales figures for Nintendo’s newest console, the Wii U, have been underwhelming so far. Since November 2012, the company has only sold 7.29 million Wii U console units. The Sony PlayStation 4, which was released a year later, has already sold more than 10 million units.
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