Whether you like Nintendo’s Amiibo’s or not – the fact is that the little plastic figures have made a cool stash of money for the Japanese gaming giant. Up to now, it’s an arrangement that everyone’s been happy to partake in. Gamers get a plastic figurine and some minor DLC content – while Nintendo gets to make a ton of money selling cheap toys. So when the news emerged that the upcoming Metroid: Samus Returns was looking to lock away gameplay modes behind the Amiibo paywall, it caused a fair amount of uproar.
The news means that highly desirable features within the upcoming Metroid: Samus Returns game will be locked behind a paywall. These aren’t small features in the slightest, While the art galleries might not be the biggest loss to most gamers – Fusion Mode is. This mode sounds like the games defacto Hard Mode – effectively meaning that many gamers won’t get to experience the games most difficult setting. Instead, they’ll need to fork out to get that experience – which is ridiculous. This seems like something EA would do with one of their blockbuster franchises – which makes Nintendo’s decision all the more shocking.
At least when EA and other AAA-developers slice off DLC content – you can usually get it at your own convenience. As frustrating as it is to see modes and content locked behind a demand for money, the option to get it is mere button presses away. Not so with Metroid: Samus Returns – which requires the use of a physical Amiibo to activate the additional content. The big problem with this is that Nintendo has been hopelessly woeful at delivering said Amiibo in satisfactory quantities.
It’s why the original lineup of Amiibo’s were selling on Ebay for well above retail price. It’s why scalpers snapped up as many of the second and third waves as possible. Nintendo’s inability to meet the demand led to the growth of a black market – fuelled by the incompetence of Nintendo to get ahead of the market. This is all without talking about how shockingly poor they were at getting Nintendo Switch’s and NES Classic Consoles out the door – devices that gamers desperately want but can’t have. Nintendo are the absolute worst when it comes to supply and demand – so tying a desired feature of a game to this failure is the height of stupidity.
It creates a sense that come release – scalpers and the opportunistic will leap aboard the Metroid: Samus Returns hype-train and buy up as many of the figurines as possible. Inevitably, the price of these Amiibo will rise – placing a hefty tax on the ability to get into this mode. It means gamers who, otherwise wouldn’t be involved in this practice, will suddenly be at the mercy of Nintendo’s incompetence. Failure to meet demand out the gate (Which Nintendo never manages) will harm the experience of the game for many.
This is my biggest problem with this. By slicing away Fusion Mode, Nintendo is robbing gamers of what should be a fun experience. Many of those who buy this game on Day One are doing so because they’ve been waiting nearly a decade for the next proper Metroid game. These are Nintendo’s most hardcore fans, the people who’ve been more patient than they should be. Their reward for this is the choice of shelling out more money, or not getting the full experience. It’s a shocking middle finger from a company that hasn’t that level of goodwill from fans.
It also continues an awkward trend that Nintendo’s been increasingly playing with. Many felt that the way they were utilized in March’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild pushed the limits on acceptability – with so much customisable content hidden behind an exhaustive list of Amiibo figures. The decision to put that games hard mode behind the Season Pass raised more than a few eyebrows – quite rightly. When asking gamers to pay full retail price for games – demanding another sizeable investment to play the game in its hardest state is not acceptable. It’s a cruel sleight of hand – toying with fans who want to experience the game at its hardest.
That’s the worst part in all this., Nintendo is shamelessly trying to carve a game that fans have been desperately waiting years to see. Instead of giving them the experience they want – those gamers are being utilised as a cashpoint. At a time when Nintendo needs all the goodwill it can muster, this seems like an incredibly short-sighted PR blunder. The kind of move that “sounds good on paper” but doesn’t help anyone but Nintendo’s bottom line.
I hope Nintendo reconsiders this move – at the very least making the mode an optional purchase via the eShop. If the company is going to commit to such stupidity, at least give those of us who don’t want to pay over the odds a way to opt out of the insanity. Because come release day for Metroid: Samus Returns – there’ll be a lot of angry gamers if those Amiibo fail to materialise in sufficient numbers. It feels like Nintendo is changing what it defines Amiibo as, and I doubt many gamers will be happy to see that.
This can only end badly for Nintendo f it fails to deliver the goods.