Nintendo's been making a lot of noise in the gaming news lately. CEO Satoru Iwata recently announced he was taking a pay cut thanks to poor sales of the Wii U console. Following the negative news the company has made a point in trying to move in a more positive direction. One thing in particular has caught my attention and I can't stop thinking about what it could mean. They've come out in saying that they will be shifting focus to health and fitness products in the future.
Nintendo took the world by storm with the Wii and it's motion controls that to a small degree got people up and moving a bit more while playing their games. Shortly after they released Wii Fit which was an even more impressive offering for exercise and gaming combined. They have continued the trend with the 3DS's built in step counter, and even more recently the Wii Fit U. There's been one fundamental problem with each of these endeavors though; they're all, kind of, gimmicky.
Now, that's not to say that they aren't fun, I had more fun playing Wii Fit with my friends than a lot of other games on the console at that time. And it did get us moving more. Was it really exercise though? I don't think so, yet, that's where the company says they want to focus on moving forward. What does this mean? What could they possibly have planned. Well, here's my thought, a bit of a stretch for sure but one that I think could be really interesting.
A Nintendo branded treadmill or stationary bike. I've seen posts on reddit about gamers who have set up their gaming consoles in front of their treadmills so that they can walk (exercise) and still play games. It's an idea that, if I had more space to do it myself, would love to implement. In particular, I feel that open world games, and more specifically open world RPGs, could benefit greatly from the extra immersion that walking while playing could provide. If Nintendo is really serious about getting gamers off the couch and moving more, this seems like a pretty logical step for them. Now, let's just forget any issues regarding price right now and think of what the possibilities could be.
Nintendo has a great track record of making durable hardware, I still have a 1989 Gameboy laying around that with a fresh set of batteries runs like no time has passed at all. If Nintendo were to make any sort of true exercise equipment, it's safe to say that it would be able to withstand the forces placed upon it. All they'd need to do is strap some traditional controls onto the handle grips, ABXY, D-Pad, analog sticks and so on and they're one step closer to combining exercise with games. Taking it further, they could implement the movement of the belt into the game as movement forward, adding an extra layer of immersion.
Now, I understand that there are plenty of issues with this idea. Cost would be a huge one, people aren't going to want to spend a few hundred dollars on an oversized game controller. Space, like I mentioned earlier, could be a big turn off for some if they have a smaller apartment and just nowhere to put a full sized piece of exercise equipment. And there are many more issues with this idea but beyond the standard gamer in their living room their living room is a whole market that could be better explored with this concept.
Physical therapy across the world could see a huge benefit from a device like this. I'm sure they already exist, but imagine the Nintendo charm and magic to go along with it. We could see Mario helping injured children and adults both overcoming injury and adversity, rooting them on until they are able to walk again.
But again, these are just some thoughts, it's hard to say where things can go from here. Nintendo has a record of pulling some crazy things out of their sleeves. Thanks.
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