This past Tuesday started out innocently enough. We were monitoring the news out of Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) when the announcement broke: As part of an agreement between Disney Interactive, Lucasfilm, and Sony, this fall will see the arrival of a special version of the upcoming Disney Infinity 3.0. The limited-edition Star Wars Saga Starter Pack will offer fans the chance to play as Boba Fett, the popular bounty hunter from the Star Wars movies. It will also allow players access to a much-anticipated Disney Infinity Play Set one month before it arrives on shelves, and even more importantly—at least, for the purposes of this commentary—the deal is only available for Sony’s PlayStation system.
According to “Interactive Gaming Toys,” the latest report from The NPD Group, 70 percent of parents in the U.S. are familiar with Interactive Gaming Toys (IGT), also known as Toys to Life. As reported by Liam Callahan, industry analyst, The NPD Group, 40 percent state that they own at least one franchise, and 41 percent of those who own an IGT indicate they own more than one franchise.
A new Mario: Silver Edition amiibo figure will be available at major nationwide retailers and their respective online destinations on May 29. As with the other Mario amiibo figures that have already launched, the Mario: Silver Edition amiibo will have the same functionality and work with all games that are compatible with Mario amiibo.
In the most recent Nintendo Direct presentation, the video game maker revealed new amiibo cards based on characters from the Animal Crossing series, compatible with the upcoming Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Both the cards and the new game are scheduled for release this fall. Nintendo also announced a new line of Yoshi amiibo figures made of actual yarn, and more.
On March 20, Nintendo will launch the Super Mario amiibo—Gold Edition, a gold-colored Mario figure that arrives on the same day as the Mario Party 10 game for the Wii U console. The new gold-colored Mario is compatible with multiple games that support the amiibo line of figures.
Mario Party 10 features a new amiibo Party mode that players can only access by tapping their compatible amiibo figures on the Wii U GamePad controller to bring them into the game as customizable board pieces. Players can also save items to their amiibo and use them strategically.
At launch, the Super Mario amiibo—Gold Edition will be sold exclusively at 3,000 Wal-Mart stores in the U.S.
The New Nintendo 3DS XL system will launch in the U.S. on February 13, according to a Nintendo Direct presentation today. The upcoming system features a wider range of controls with the addition of a C Stick and ZL/ZR buttons, super-stable 3-D via face-tracking technology, and built-in NFC functionality that allows for communication with amiibo figures.
The system also enhances certain games like Super Smash Bros. with amiibo functionality, faster processing speeds, and more control options when compared to the Nintendo 3DS system. In addition to the standard New Red and New Black, two other New Nintendo 3DS XL designs will be available at launch: one featuring artwork inspired by the soon-to-be-released The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, and one based on Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, available exclusively at GameStop with the game pre-installed.
Pre-sales of the fighting game for Wii U, which arrives at stores on November 21, surpassed Mario Kart 8, and interest in the game has generated optimism at Nintendo. Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America, said in an interview on Tuesday that sell-through expectations for Super Smash Bros. are on par with Mario Kart 8, which could have a dramatic impact on hardware.
Mario Kart 8 has sold 3.49 million units, including 2.74 million outside Japan, and Wii U console sales more than doubled from a year earlier to 1.12 million devices in the six months ended September. So far this year, Nintendo has sold 2 million Wii U units, according to the site VGChartz. The Wii U posted its first consecutive quarterly sales gains in the June and September periods.
Super Smash Bros. is the first Nintendo title that will also support amiibo, the company’s entry into the $1 billion interactive toy category, scheduled for release in time for the holidays.
The online delivery service Loot Crate is helping fans receive select Nintendo amiibo figures after they launch on November 21. By signing up for the limited-time amiibo subscription service, subscribers will receive 10 pre-selected amiibo—including Mario, Pikachu, Donkey Kong, Fox, and Yoshi—separated into three special Loot Crate shipments throughout the holiday season.
By joining the subscription service, Loot Crate guarantees the 10 pre-selected amiibo, and allows subscribers to avoid the hassle of rushing to retailers to find certain characters. In addition to Mario, Pikachu, Donkey Kong, Fox, and Yoshi, the other five pre-selected characters will eventually be revealed through Loot Crate.
Nintendo and Loot Crate plan additional surprises for Super Smash Bros. and amiibo fans. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Mario Kart 8, and Hyrule Warriors will feature amiibo compatibility this year, with functionality for more titles coming in the future.
As reported by Bloomberg News on Wednesday, Nintendo posted second-quarter profits that beat analyst estimates, helped by a weaker yen that boosted the value of overseas sales and demand for new games, including the company’s Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. Net income was 24.2 billion yen, or $224 million, for the three months ended September 30, compared to an 8 billion yen loss a year earlier.
The company booked a 15.5 billion yen gain in the fiscal first half from the weaker Japanese currency. Second-quarter sales fell to 96.7 billion yen from 115 billion yen a year ago, but Nintendo left unchanged its forecast for full-year profit of 20 billion yen and sales of 590 billion yen. The company maintained its projection to sell 3.6 million Wii U consoles across the full year.
In a statement, Nintendo also maintained its full-year sales targets for the 3DS handheld player and software titles for both. The newest version of the 3DS, which features additional buttons and a faster processor, went on sale in Japan on October 11; and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, which was released in Japan on September 13, and in North America and Europe on October 3, sold 3.2 million units as of the end of the month. The company is also entering the multi-billion-dollar, collectible toy market with its amiibo figurines, which let players enter a Nintendo character into a game through the Wii U’s GamePad tablet.