Tobold's Blog
Thursday, August 05, 2021
NFC Cards

I own a lot of games, but barely any toys. You won't find a shelf full of Star Wars action figures or anything like that in my house. The only thing similar I have is 4 figurines with characters from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so-called amiibo. And the only reason I bought those was that when I play Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild, once per day per figurine I can touch that amiibo to the right thumbstick of the joycon and get some in-game items for that. More importantly, there are special in-game things, like a wolf pet, which can *only* be gotten this way. Other Nintendo Switch games have amiibo systems too, for example in Monster Hunter Stories 2 you can get special outfits as well as general resources via amiibo.

While I did buy those amiibo to try them out for Legend of Zelda, I am not a fan. Other than for the in-game items I don't have use for those figurines, and they are rather large and take up space. And they are expensive, and sometimes hard to get. Even a regular amiibo costs around $20, and good luck finding the Wolf-rider Link one for below $100 these days (I bought mine when it was still cheap). Nevertheless I did look on Amazon for those Monster Hunter Stories 2 amiibo, just to check what was available.

To my surprise, there was a *much* cheaper option available: NFC cards. Basically the same "near field communication" chip that makes an amiibo work, on a small plastic card. You can get complete sets for the game you are playing (12 for Monster Hunter Stories 2, or 24 for Legend of Zelda) for around the $20 that a single common amiibo would cost you. I was a bit sceptical whether that was legal and would work, but I tried it out, and it does.

Now obviously these NFC cards are produced by copying the information of the original amiibos. But that information can't be copyrighted, so the NFC card copy is perfectly legal. Only the artwork of the amiibo is copyrighted, which is the images on those NFC cards look as if a kid had tried to draw his favorite video game character. You can barely make out who it is supposed to be, so no copyright problem.

For me, this is perfect. I am never going to buy a real amiibo again. I only ever wanted the electronic function of them, and was never interested in the actual figurine. Of course I understand that this won't be true for everybody, and some collectors will want to have the figurines for display. But for me the cheap Chinese rip-off product is superior to the original.

I'm pretty sure that distribution of copied amiibos is pretty much not intended - whether there is an actual law that is broken by copying is another thing.
I haven't found anything where it was tried in court, but Nintendo is apparently going after sellers.
There is a Kotaku article from 2017 that says that Nintendo is selling cease & desist letters to private people selling NFC cards copied from amiibo on eBay / Etsy. I bought my NFC cards from Amazon, and I'm pretty sure that Amazon has a large legal department that intervenes when third party merchants try to sell anything illegal there. So my guess is that Nintendo lost that particular fight.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool