As a gaming company, Nintendo has some experience with people’s health as the company released Wii Fit and Wii Sports on the Nintendo Wii as well as their Wii U sequels, Wii Fit U and Wii Sports Club. The games allow people to stay fit and have fun without a pricey gym membership and at one point, it was even suggested that Wii Fit could help to rehabilitate people who’d had strokes.
So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Nintendo announced plans to get into the health and fitness sector even more when Nintendo President (the late Satoru Iwata) revealed that the company had a quality of life (QOL) plan for the next 10 years. Iwata explained that the company wanted to “redefine entertainment as something that improves people’s quality of life in enjoyable ways”, but he was quick to avoid controversy by stating that Nintendo isn’t planning on abandoning its video game platforms and that they would still remain the company’s key focus.
As recently as July of this year, Nintendo also patented some sort of sleep monitor/projector hybrid that would asses the user’s heart rate, temperature and more, which would then allow Nintendo to provide the user with a sleep score. Because of this patent filing, many thought that more information about its quality of life plans would be on the way soon but some analysts feel that the company’s quality of life plans have now been canned.
Speaking to Fortune, Lewis Ward, research director for gaming at IDC, said that:
“I think [Nintendo’s quality of life platform has] been pushed to the back burner. It’s supposed to be released in the U.S. by the end of March , but I haven’t heard anything. … [However,] I do think Nintendo has always had an interest in ‘Blue Ocean’ markets and health care and the intersection with their hardware and their software is something they’ve viewed as an opportunity.”
Meanwhile, famed industry analyst Michael Pachter added that:
“I think it’s probably dead—just like the Wii Vitality Sensor was before and they didn’t tell anybody.”
The Wii Vitality Sensor that Pachter is referring to was a device that was revealed by Iwata at E3 2009. It was envisioned as a Wii accessory that would help the wearer relax and would also monitor their heartbeat, but the product was never released, or heard from ever again. So Pachter is right in suggesting that the company has form for this kind of thing, and Nintendo may well have postponed their QOL platform too.
Also supporting the theory that Nintendo’s QOL platform is not a high priority right now is the fact that the company will soon be releasing mobile games. The reveal that Nintendo would be teaming up with Japanese publisher DeNA on various mobile titles was a surprise, especially as Nintendo had avoided mobile gaming for years despite its popularity. The mobile strategy is a huge risk for Nintendo, but if it pays off, the company hopes that people will buy their consoles as a result. It makes sense then, that the company would like to focus on that instead.
But on the other hand, Nintendo may have just delayed the QOL project rather than shelved it altogether. Not much is known about the Nintendo NX (the games console that Nintendo announced with few details) but earlier this year Iwata confirmed that it would “change each person’s video gaming life”, which is exactly the sort of statement that would describe a console with quality of life features. Nintendo won’t be talking about the NX until 2016 and won’t be released until holiday 2016 at the earliest, so if the console does include some QOL features, that may explain why Pachter and Ward haven’t heard much about Nintendo’s QOL platform lately.