Why Animal Crossing Players Make Their Own Amiibo Cards

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Why Are Animal Crossing Players Making Amiibos? 3
Credit: Nintendo

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a ton of Amiibo functionality, and what you can do with Amiibos in-game is so important that an entire community dedicated to making its own Amiibos, in a sense, has grown up around New Horizons. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about how and why Animal Crossing players are making their own Amiibos.

What Are Amiibos, and How Do They Work in Animal Crossing?

What Are Amiibos, and How Do They Work in Animal Crossing?
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Credit: Nintendo

On a base level, Amiibos are toys made and sold by Nintendo, similar to a Funko Pop but with a bit of a different style and all in the context of Nintendo IP. Traditionally, Amiibos launch for around $16 in stores, and Nintendo releases new Amiibos pretty regularly.

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However, the thing is that Amiibos aren't just toys. In an Amiibo, there's an NFC (near-field communication) chip. This kind of tech is like Bluetooth or WiFi in the sense that it allows for the wireless transmission of data, but it works based on proximity. NFC tech is the kind of tech that powers digital payment services like Apple Pay. What it allows you to do is with an NFC reader you can scan something with an NFC chip and read data off it.

Related: Should You Restart Your Animal Crossing Island?

Accordingly, Nintendo also sells Amiibo cards, credit card-sized cards with NFC tech in them, that just offer up the virtual functionality of the Amiibo and not the collector's angle of actually picking up toys. Traditionally, a pack of Amiibo cards retails for around $6.

With an Amiibo, you can use a Switch Joycon to, for example, scan your Amiibo and unlock new features in games. This will depend on the Amiibo you have and the game it supports, but in general, Amiibo functionality can actually be pretty major. Some games offer up fairly substantial mechanics or advantages with Amiibos, granted you've got the right one.

In Animal Crossing, you can scan Amiibos of villagers to invite them to your campsite. This will, first off, unlock sets of items you can order, depending on the Amiibo, but there's a more important central feature: You can invite the Amiibo villagers that come to your campsite to move to your island, and you'll be given the option to choose who you want to move out and replace with your Amiibo villager.

Related: Is Animal Crossing: New Horizons Worth It, Multiplayer, Free, or on PC?

There is no other way in the game to have direct control like this over your villagers without a lot of roundabout work. And for a game so centrally designed around customizing your island and picking villagers, this kind of Amiibo functionality is pretty major in the context of Animal Crossing.

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Why Are Animal Crossing Players Making Amiibos?

What Are Amiibos, and How Do They Work in Animal Crossing? 2
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Credit: Nintendo

The main problem with Amiibos is pricing and availability. While they retail for pretty reasonable prices, the stock is usually not very good. Like with many, many Nintendo products, Amiibos routinely are released at a certain price, which people hungrily and instantly buy up, and then the Amiibos go back up for sale online for much more.

Accordingly, depending on what you want, you might not be able to find it at all, or you might have to pay an arm and a leg for it. NFC tech is cool, yes, but Amiibos are designed to be cheap, plastic toys, not serious collector's items at the level of an expensive, hand-crafted figurine, so paying many times their actual value doesn't feel like a great buy for most people.

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Plus, with Animal Crossing, if you want all the newest Amiibo items and to continuously be able to switch up your villagers, you'll have to keep on buying Amiibos maybe forever. And you inevitably won't be able to get them all at launch for a fair price, so the whole process, considering how big of a deal Amiibos are in Animal Crossing, can seem demoralizing.

So, since NFC tech just comes down to a few bytes on a chip and most modern phones come equipped with NFC reading and writing capabilities, when you combine that with the fact that you can buy packs of NFC cards or stickers or what have you for next-to-nothing online, making your own cards becomes pretty easy, pretty cheap, and pretty sustainable.

The process, depending on your situation and where you live, exists in something of a legal gray area. It's very similar to emulation and modding where depending on how you do it it may become 'more' or 'less' legal, but either way, the laws around these things exist to, very occasionally, punish those who create and distribute these kinds of software (especially those looking to profit in these areas) and not the actual consumer.

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If you're interested, there are a million articles on the web and YouTube videos you can watch that detail the process in its entirety. The whole thing, after you have some cards, comes down to a couple of taps and a minute or two, so don't worry about the complexity. Assuming you know enough about the process to decide if you feel comfortable participating, the resources are out there, but we're not going to link you directly to anything in this article, just to be safe.