In the 1970s, there was the Pet Rock, a devilishly simple idea conceived in a bar that turned out to be a hit. Its founder, Gary Dahl, made millions of dollars from it. Since then, there are have been several other surprising hits, like Tickle Me Elmo and, more recently, Nintendo's Amiibo figures, which use near field communication (NFC) to interact with supported Wii U and 3DS games.
According to Nintendo, the company sold nearly twice as many Amiibo figures as it did Super Smash Bros. for Wii U games in 2014, the latter of which came to more than 1.3 million physical and digital units. We crunched the numbers using both traditional addition methods and the new common core standard, and in both cases, we came to around 2.6 million for the number of Amiibo figure sales.
Not too shabby, considering they sell for $13 a pop. So far Nintendo has released 18 different Amiibo figures, several of which are difficult to find in-stock at retail, leaving potential buyers scouring eBay to find their figures of choice selling at grossly inflated prices.
"Wii U had its strongest year yet thanks to the highly anticipated software lineup and the introduction of the Amiibo platform," said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. "Fans can anticipate another strong year for 2015, especially with more highly anticipated games like Splatoon and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, as well as New Nintendo 3DS XL, arriving in the first half of 2015."
Assuming that Amiibos remain popular throughout 2015, look for Nintendo's Wii U platform to have another banner year, especially as the company gets ready to release more figures. Nintendo already said it's planning 11 more Amiibo figures for its Super Smash line next month, and more recently said it will add half a dozen more on top of those. And in March, it will add another six figures, including new versions of Mario, Yoshi, Toad, Peach, Bowser, and Luigi. That will being the tally to 41 Amiibos.