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The future of Nintendo's amiibo includes card games, smaller toys, Animal Crossing

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Nintendo's new amiibo toys, the NFC-powered figures for Wii U and 3DS, are going to change over time, designer and producer Shigeru Miyamoto says. In fact, amiibo aren't just toys, he said, they'll also be cards that will bring a unique gameplay experience to the Wii U.

Miyamoto said that amiibo cards will be like a more modern realization of Nintendo's e-Reader cards for the Game Boy Advance, cards that could be used to unlock items, levels and mini-games in some software.

"[W]hen amiibo become cards, we can create a game which can be played only by passing several cards over the NFC reader/writer, and the results will be stored in the amiibo card," Miyamoto said in a question and answer session at a Nintendo investor presentation. "I cannot discuss any of the details today, but amiibo has the potential to propose new ways to play card games."

Nintendo also plans to release "smaller and even more affordable" amiibo figures in the future. The first amiibo figures, based on the new Super Smash Bros., retail for $12.99.

The company's new figures are already confirmed to work with a variety of software titles, including Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Some of those games are being retrofitted with amiibo features, while others, including a new Animal Crossing game, are being built with amiibo in mind.

"By using amiibo in different forms, we are internally discussing the possibility of using amiibo with, for example, an Animal Crossing game and other games in some unique ways," Miyamoto said. "I hope you look forward to our future announcements."

Finally, Miyamoto discussed Nintendo's approach to focusing on toys and the Wii U GamePad's NFC reader as a unique "charm" of the system. In the past, he said, Nintendo's game makers may have put too much emphasis on the system's dual-screen capabilities, but it's now focusing on what NFC features can add.

"Nintendo is known as a video game company, but in fact, it is also a toy company," Miyamoto said. "Toys must make consumers feel a 'sense of wonder.' In that sense, with video game software, we can think about many different ways to emulate that feeling by creating virtual experiences for the users. When it comes to video game hardware, the hardware-development companies tend to take the similar and rather unified course of aiming to beef up the machines' functionalities. In our efforts to differentiate our hardware from others, I believe it is important that users experience that feeling that they have played with a new toy. To that end, the fact that we can reproduce in our entertainment the experiences that people today can only have at a few limited places (mainly for business purposes outside the home) such as train ticket gates, namely, some results are shown instantaneously on the screen as soon as you pass something over somewhere, is very attractive."