It is no secret that Nintendo’s Wii U console has dramatically under-performed to the company’s expectations, as they had to cut their expected sales forecast by a massive 70 percent in January. Before Nintendo got together and came up with a new business direction, it was hinted that they were investigating mobile platforms. Not necessarily putting games on smartphones and tablets, but at the very least it was suggested they would be advertising on them. However, company president Satoru Iwata has now revealed that what Nintendo plans to do is so different, it is almost like they are ready to reinvent the very gaming wheel that they themselves first created.
Ever since the Nintendo Wii was released, the company’s focus has been on creating a casual and family-oriented gaming experience. Unfortunately for them, with the smartphone and tablet revolution, casual gamers flocked to these platforms, as well as Facebook to play games like Candy Crush Saga. In order to solve the Wii U crisis, the logical solution that everyone expected was for Nintendo to be among the last to jump onto the mobile bandwagon and start developing mobile games or at least importing their existing ones. But instead, Nintendo plans to develop a new platform which will complement the Wii U and 3DS and take them both in a new direction that nobody else is doing, as well as expand on something they have already had success with. The new platform will focus on increasing people’s health and quality of life in enjoyable ways. This is not Wii Fit; this is the next level.
Why did McDonald’s introduce salads into their menu in 2005? Why did gyms become appealing to the masses during the 1990s? Perhaps it was the birth of the Internet and the explosion of information which helped people become more aware and educated about living healthy lifestyles. Whatever the case may be, health is an important part of people’s lives and Nintendo knows it. They have plans to reinvent the way gaming is done by introducing a new kind of wheel called “non-wearable features” as they dive into what they call, “a new blue ocean.” Leave it to Nintendo to be the innovators behind something as grand as this. If their success with this new concept of gaming is anything like the success they had when they redefined casual gaming with the Wii (which sold over 100 million units by the end of 2013), then a lot of country’s citizens are about to become skinnier.
According to Iwata, he hopes that the new gaming platform will address the issue of motivation and staying committed to living a healthy lifestyle. He understands that it is not uncommon to give up on living healthy after a few days of trying and hopes that as an entertainment company, they can use their strengths to keep people engaged and having fun while they work out.
For all the gamers who have grown up loving Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda and all of Nintendo’s other successful franchises, there is no need to worry. The Wii U and 3DS are not being abandoned and in fact, they plan for the Wii U’s near-field communication technology built into the controller to soon be getting more use. Not to mention that more games will be added to the Virtual Console for the Wii U from its Nintendo DS platform. After all, not all the gaming wheels need to be reinvented; some just have to be a little bit more fine-tuned.
By Jonathan Holowka