Nintendo has released the figures for its best-selling amiibo figures, and the green-clad young Link in The Legend of Zelda series is the most popular of the NFC-enabled figurine in the North American market.
In the United States and Canada, where Nintendo sells 63 percent of its amiibo toys, Link is the best-selling character, followed by Mario and Pikachu. Europe and Japan, which account for 23 percent and 11 percent of Nintendo's amiibo sales respectively, also have Link as the most popular amiibo. In Europe, just like in North America, Mario and Pikachu placed second and third, while Japan saw Kirby, the titular pink puff, taking over as the second most popular amiibo while Mario was de-ranked to third place. The Aussies, however, have slightly different tastes; Mario is the best-selling amiibo in the land down under, where 3 percent of amiibo figures are sold, followed by Pikachu and Link.
Other characters making it into the top 10 list in North America are, in order of sales, Kirby, Metroid intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran, the two-legged dragon Yoshi, Princess Zelda, Donkey Kong, Mushroom Kingdom's Princess Peach, and Mario's twin brother Luigi.
At its quarterly earnings call with investors on Monday, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata announced that the company has sold a global total of 5.7 million of the $12.99 amiibo figurines since they were introduced last year. Last month, Nintendo said it sold "nearly twice" as many amiibo figures as its Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which sold 1.3 million copies. In December, Nintendo said amiibo sales were "approximately equal" to Super Smash Bros., indicating that the amiibo figures are gathering steam quite nicely.
Iwata also said that Nintendo is further capitalizing on the wireless amiibo protocol by using its NFC-enabled figurines to unlock limited vignettes in older NES and SNES games. Nintendo is also exploring NFC-powered amiibo cards in conjunction with the figurines.
Nintendo's range of highly collectible amiibo figures work similarly to Activision's Skylanders and Disney's Infinity. Using near-field communication (NFC), the same technology that powers Apple Pay and other mobile payment systems, gamers can scan the amiibo on the Wii U gamepad and the character will appear on the screen for gamers to spar or pit against other amiibo characters. The figurines are also capable of storing data sent by Wii U, so that information such as stats and fighting styles are preserved, and each individual figurine becomes a unique character of its own.
"Even if you and a friend both find Link figures, they won't be the same," says [video] Bill Trinen of Nintendo America. "You can customize their special moves based on the character's unique capabilities. That means your Link amiibo becomes your personal version of Link."
Amiibo support is also coming to the new Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo plans to release an adapter for older models.