Why we should fear Wii Fit

wiifit.jpg

“Wii Fit, is it” – Reggie

Nintendo’s Wii Fit was recently released in Japan just in time for the holidays at around $80. Online retailers such as play-asia have it on stock for $189.90. As I heard this news, I couldn’t help but flashback to this years E3. Specifically, when Miyamato’s next big game was revealed, Wii Fit. At this point, I believe a deafening silence swept Nintendo fan-boys everywhere. The same Nintendo faithful, that stood by Nintendo through the N64 and Gamecube era, were seemingly shafted for the casual market. In years past, we were treated to things like Mario Galaxy and Zelda Twilight Princess, franchises that were symbolic of the Nintendo brand, but instead we got what was effectively an interactive weighing scale. With that announcement, it became clear that Nintendo’s approach to gaming was in a new direction, “Audience Expansion”.

Wii Fit will be, comparably, the second coming of Wii Sports. It will be at the forefront of Nintendo’s campaign to draw-in people that don’t play games to buy the Wii. With a name like Wii Fit, it is obviously targeted to the older and more health conscious demographic. With activities such as yoga, aerobics, stretching and “games”, Nintendo will be earning a lot of positive attention from mainstream media. This is why traditional hard-core gamers need to be cautious about the kind of success that Wii Fit will have. Mario Galaxy, the 2nd highest reviewed game in history (according to Game Rankings), did not sell as well as expected in Japan, compared to New Super Mario Bros. for the DS. If, in the next few months, Wii Fit goes on to outsell Mario Galaxy in Japan and in other major regions, say goodbye.

In all likely-hood, Wii Fit will outsell Mario Galaxy. The Japanese market will eat this thing up, it will be like the Wii launch all over again. A few months after, Wii Fit will come out in the U.S. market starting all sorts of media mayhem. I can imagine seeing this thing on Oprahs favorite things list, the Today Show, Good Morning America and making #1 on Times invention of the year. When that time comes, Nintendo will have even less incentive to pour development efforts into franchises like Mario or Zelda, that require so much more money and will not sell as well. Miyamoto might even be ‘expected’ to come out at next years E3 with his next ‘casual gaming gem’ instead of an actual game.

Sure there is always the argument that any money going into casual games is good for the industry as a whole, but as the Wiis line-up of games has shown, that is not the case, and the forth-coming Wii Fit will cement this argument as a good or bad thing for the traditional gamer.

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~ by phgamer on December 1, 2007.

11 Responses to “Why we should fear Wii Fit”

  1. Yeah, I don’t think so.

    “In years past, we were treated to things like Mario Galaxy and Zelda Twilight Princess”

    You make it sound like these great games came years ago. Galaxy JUST CAME OUT. Metroid a couple of months ago and Twilight Princess barely a year ago. Games like NSMB, Mario Kart, and Zelda aren’t going anywhere. Nintendo has even revived older classic franchises like Excite Truck. No, I think its pretty clear that Nintendos goal (both in word and in deed) is to attract new/lapsed gamers while still satisfying those of us who love many of the Nintendo franchises.

    This is great for the industry because it allows 3rd parties to expand both their audience and their creativity. Sure, if you lust after wannabe “hardcore” shooters like whats getting pumped out daily on xbox, the Wii may seem a bit scary. But if you’re like the rest of us who want to have fun trying something new and maybe a bit zany that may even have a true physical element to the gameplay? Well, the Wii is very exciting indeed.

  2. When I mentioned “In Years Past”, I was referring to E3’s, mainly 2006 and 2005. FYI, I don’t play FPS’s and I dislike the term ‘hard-core’, but as of now its the most commonly used term for differentiation. Yes, I agree, franchises like Zelda aren’t going anywhere. Have you seen Link’s crossbow training?

  3. “Have you seen Link’s crossbow training?”

    I haven’t. I’m pretty ho-hum about the zapper. Its getting surprisingly good reviews though, for what seemed like a tech demo.
    I’m just saying, the reasons that Nintendo fans have stayed Nintendo fans don’t seem to be going anywhere. And I think the new direction of games like Wii-Fit, will bring alot of lapsed gamers back into the fold, if for no other reason than gaming will be more mainstream and seem more “acceptable” for 30-40 year olds.
    A gaming habit may start with Wii Fit for Christmas but then once its in the house, Nintendo and third parties jobs change into one of ongoing satisfation. If you want gaming to go mainstream, you’ve got to reach new customers, then you’ve got to get them hooked. The Wii and Wii-Fit are the first step in that plan. It will be interesting to see if they can capitalize on these new demographics. Some people think the answer is no, that they’ll buy Wii and Wii-Fit then forget about the console. I’m not so sure thats what will happen. People in my family who never gamed before bought the Wii on my recommendation a year ago and they have really embraced it with games like Trauma Center and Galaxy so I definitely think there is opportunity for crossover.

  4. You shouldn’t really fear wii fit, I mean, you can already get Wii fitness on Wii Sports that comes with the console. With all that Wii the toilet will be full up by the end of the day (joke)

    check out my blog at http://www.extrapreneur.wordpress.com

  5. The problem with more moms playing video games is that they will pay alot more attention to what games are out there and eventually all my games will start out cool and end up like Manhunt 2, with the lame filters that severely diminish my games. I like the silly fun games on Wii, and that is mostly what I have that system for, but I want to be able to really sit down and play a game not dumbed down for the casual gamers 5 minute attention span.

  6. Why do people have to have these rigid ideas of “casual” and otherwise? Remember back in the day, when all games on the NES were casual? Nintendo has said many times that they want to blur the line between “casual” and “core”, which sounds like a great idea to me. I think it’s a refreshing idea, and I think particularly American consumers tend to hold these views that really close the mind to new ideas.

    Nintendo gets grilled by the press on a perceived lack of “hardcore” games, I’m pretty sure they have all kinds of new games up their sleeves that we — including the writer of this piece — have no idea about. I’m all for Wiifit.

  7. I think your post was reactionary and alarmist, and completely misguided. There’s nothing to suggest that Nintendo will now suddenly abandon their bread-and-butter franchises. Of course they’re trying to appeal to a broader audience, but I don’t see any reason to worry about their main games. This post seems to be pure speculation at best, and paranoia at worst.

  8. @galgamer,

    “I want to be able to really sit down and play a game not dumbed down for the casual gamers 5 minute attention span.”

    Me too. Absolutely. But at the same time, I want gaming to offer up some new experiences, not just prettier versions of what we were playing last gen. All the consoles are great and serve different purposes. The success of one won’t mean the others do the exact same thing. This is a big world with lots of tastes and I think enough people feel the way you do so there will always be games for you. But with Wii fit, its nice because there are games for others too, not JUST gamers like you. Does that make sense?

  9. I will be getting Wii-fit. I think it is a wonderful idea to bring more interactivity to games. Maybe we will see Wii-fit used with the Wii-mote in a game. That is what I love about Nintendo, the ability to increase player interactivity with games.

  10. You’ve got a few good points, but I don’t think that this will spell the end of franchises such as Zelda, Mario and Metroid. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is an awesome game, so if you haven’t played it because of the label ‘FPS’, at least rent it.

    I don’t have much interest in Wii Fit, myself, but other people do. If it all amounts to more money for Nintendo, which can be put toward the development of core games, then I think that’s a good thing.

    This whole ‘market expansion’ has been in effect ever since the Nintendo DS launched in 2004, and we’ve had a Mario, Zelda, Metroid game since then, as well as Smash Bros Brawl coming out soon. What we should be fearing more than Wii Fit is the low sales rate of third party developers which could result in less suport for the Wii. What third party developers need to do is start making some games for the Wii from the ground up, and less ports.

  11. great product, can’t wait to come to the US.

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