Nintendo plans to recover its sinking ship with 'health platform'
31st Jan 2014 | 23:52
A last ditch effort perhaps?
Nintendo has been adamant about staying far away from the smartphone and wearables space despite sluggish sales. President Satoru Iwata has even taken a five month 50% pay cut, and the board a 20-30% cut, to keep the company afloat.
There also have been plans in the works to turn the tables, though they are far from what anyone has expected.
Iwata disclosed vague details during Nintendo's investor briefing about improving the "quality of life" for people by "redefining entertainment."
Over the next ten years, Iwata and team will base this improvement through a new "health platform."
An ocean of uncertainty
When questioned for specifics, Iwata simply replied it's "not necessarily something you will use in the living room."
Where Nintendo is going and what exactly it is doing with the theme of health is hazy at this point.
On the one hand, Iwata has made it clear that "quality of life" is a new business model separate from gaming:
"We will attempt to establish a new platform business with which we can leverage our strengths, but which is independent from our video game platform business."
But then again, it seems like video games will eventually be tied in:
"... while we feel that this is going to take two to three years after its launch, we expect the QOL-improving platform to provide us with new themes which we can then turn into games that operate on our future video game platforms, too.
Once we have established such a cycle, we will see continuous positive interactions between the two platforms that enable us to make unique propositions."
Simply put, the health platform is not a video game, but it could be related and later tied into games, where ultimately the company hopes to pull in more users.
Wii U who?
Have no fears about QOL taking over Nintendo - the company will always have video games on the brain: "Dedicated video game platforms which integrate hardware and software will remain our core business."
Not to be left out, the Wii U was also mentioned by Iwata or more specifically, the GamePad. Rather than lowering the price of the failing Wii U, Nintendo will give its full attention to the GamePad:
"In the short-term, Nintendo will focus on thoroughly enriching the value of the most significant feature of Wii U, the Wii U GamePad."
However that doesn't mean it's GamePad 24/7. Currently, research is being conducted to develop new hardware systems - meaning we'll likely see a fresh console or handheld in the future - possibly as soon as this year.
Hope for smart devices after all?
We mentioned earlier Nintendo refuses to enter the smartphone arena by licensing its characters out, but the real answer seems much trickier and suggests otherwise.
It seems Iwata knows there is demand for Nintendo on mobile devices beyond its own handhelds: "Given that the competition for consumers' time and attention has become fierce, I feel that how we will take advantage of smart devices is an extremely important question to answer."
But that doesn't mean Nintendo is immediately jumping on the bandwagon: "... let me emphasize that this does not mean simply supplying Nintendo games on smart devices."
Yet Iwata has also told reporters that Nintendo will release an app for smart devices this year - though it sounds like the app will more or less just tie back in with Nintendo's own platforms rather than act as standalone games.