In April, Nintendo confirmed that an ARMS character would be kicking off the Fighters Pass 2, and that the character would be revealed and released in June. Sakurai, the game’s Big Boss of development, has stated in a recent Famitsu interview that development was proceeding just fine, and there were no major problems despite having to work from home. It’s reasonable to conclude that we will get that ARMS character on schedule.
So what’s up with the DLC amiibo fighters, then?
The present evidence
Well, they might not be coming at all. Nintendo has never actually confirmed that the Fighters Pass 1 characters were getting amiibo functionality, and there’s no AI for them in the game. Historically Nintendo has already placed the amiibo AI in the game in the patch prior to their release, and evidently that’s not the case here. Don’t be fooled by anyone who says they have one – as of May 12, 2020 there’s no functional way to hack in a properly-functioning amiibo of a DLC fighter.
There is the obvious response that the AI hasn’t been patched in yet because they aren’t coming for a long time, which resurrects my previous question. When do we get the fighters?
My best guess, based on the facts and intuition that I’m about to present, is that it’ll be a very, very long time.
Nintendo contracts out most amiibo production to a factory in Shenzhen, Hong Kong, China, according to this 2016 CPSIA filing. And, as fate would have it, they’re still trying to shake it off. The American Center for Disease Control has been studying the situation in Shenzhen, and has had nothing new to report on the infection since January. The infection spread rapidly over the span of three weeks, at which point the Chinese government abruptly stopped releasing information to the general public on the situation.
It’s safe to assume, given this information, that the factory that manufactures amiibo is shut down and has been for four months now. At the very least, that’s a four-month delay on the eventual release of the DLC amiibo.
During the end days of Smash 4, there was a very long stretch of time where three DLC characters had never been given an amiibo. Cloud, Corrin and Bayonetta went almost a year and a half between their official releases and their amiibo release. While part of this can be chalked up to having two official variants for each character, effectively doubling the workload, there’s no reason to believe this wouldn’t happen again.
In addition, the previous batch of DLC amiibo, Roy and Ryu (ROB was already available in his Western color variant), went a nine months between their official release and their amiibo release.
Since the release of Smash Ultimate, Nintendo has had to pick up a new trend for amiibo sales: reprints. Most of the Smash amiibo line has had or was planned to get reprints down the line, but now Nintendo is facing incredible demand for other lines: Animal Crossing amiibo cards. If Nintendo is just contracting out one factory, they won’t be able to keep up with demand. We can see that demand far outstrips supply just by looking at the resale value of amiibo:
If Nintendo had met demand adequately, the prices would be significantly lower, especially when one takes into consideration the fact that a Mario amiibo functions the same as most other Mario amiibo in nearly every circumstance. One Mario ought to be the price of most other Marios in the long run.
The difficult conclusion
The most likely story that we can gather from these facts is that Nintendo probably planned for DLC amiibo to release sometime late this year (which would leave a nine-month window between the release of Byleth and the first amiibo pack). The COVID-19 shutdowns have probably extended that situation to an undefined later time, and that Nintendo as of yet has no plans to release the DLC amiibo because there simply aren’t any DLC amiibo that exist yet.
If we have no information on the DLC amiibo when the ARMS character releases in June, it’s safe to assume that no DLC amiibo will be releasing in 2020.