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How Nintendo Aims to Get its Mojo Back

Nintendo is having trouble selling its gaming systems and software. It’s answer to help turn around three consecutive years of losses: promote healthy living.

The Japanese gamemaker said it will launch a third platform — dubbed QOL — soon to work with its Wii U and 3Ds handheld device. Details of the new system are scant, but Nintendo’s CEO Satoru Iwata told a gathering of media and investors Thursday that “what Nintendo will try to achieve in the next 10 years is a platform business that improves people’s [quality of life] in enjoyable ways.”

The non-wearable device launch is an odd one but one that makes sense when you consider that Nintendo single-handedly got millions of gamers to get off their couch and work out with the “Wii Fit,” “Brain Age” and “Wii Sports.” It’s sold over 40 million copies of “Wii Fit” and 33 million copies of “Brain Age.” After launching health-related software, Nintendo would launch educational apps (for music, painting, learning foreign languages) and lifestyle programs to learn how to cook, for example.

Now Nintendo wants to put more resources into growing that side of its business.

In fact, Nintendo believes the new QOL platform will enable the company to sail into a “blue ocean” of consumers who may not have been interested in buying a videogame console but want to stay healthy, aided by technology.

Nintendo will reveal more plans for the new device this year, and anticipates the product to launch during its fiscal year that kicks off April 2015 and ends in March 2016.

“As those who are already suffering from illness can seek medical care, our new business domain would… enable people to monitor their health,” Iwata said. “However, what is generally good for health requires some kind of effort to be made by the individual, and… it is sometimes difficult to stay focused and engaged, and it is not uncommon to give up after a few days. This is where our strength as an entertainment company to keep our consumers engaged and entertained comes into play.”

As for its core business, Nintendo plans to experiment with a new pricing model that would reduce the cost of games depending on how many Nintendo games consumers purchase over time.

It has no plans to produce mobile games, believing that anything it does on a smartphone or tablet would be designed as a promotional push to send consumers back to the Wii U or 3DS.

“Many people say that releasing Nintendo’s software assets for smart devices would expand our business. However, we believe that we cannot show our strength as an integrated hardware-software business in this field, and therefore it would difficult to continue the same scale of business in the medium- to long term,” Iwata said.

Nintendo also plans to produce more games that take advantage of the screen on the GamePad, needed to play the Wii U. That includes the new “Mario Cart 8,” out in May. (see above).

“Our top priority task this year is to offer software titles that are made possible because of the GamePad,” Iwata said.

Nintendo will also license more of its characters to other gamemakers, but the games will be exclusive to Nintendo, the way it’s enabled “The Legend of Zelda’s” Link to be featured in “Hyrule Warriors,” and Sega to add Mario to its Olympic Games series.

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