Hey, kids! Don't be alarmed if your mother asks to borrow the Nintendo Wii to do some yoga or break into a simulated ski run. Nintendo's (Nasdaq: NTDOY.PK ) Wii Fit hits stores today, and the video game giant is hoping that things shape up nicely as it cashes in on the fitness craze.
The $89 title, which consists of a balance board and Wii software, represents a bold new direction for the video game industry. The board, which tracks performance and calculates things such as your weight and body mass, is aiming to do more than just replace that treadmill collecting cobwebs in the garage.
If successful, Nintendo will once again broaden the reach of the video game industry. Nintendo DS titles such as Brain Age and Nintendogs -- as well as the hands-on nature of the revolutionary Wii -- have already redefined the diehard-gamer stereotype. Now the company wants to reach deeper still into the masses, even if that means making you sweat.
Rival console makers don't necessarily need to be alarmed at this point. Wii Fit's aim is to attract an entirely new audience to the gaming niche, such as those who want to work out in private. Fitness centers such as Town Sports (Nasdaq: CLUB ) and Life Time Fitness (NYSE: LTM ) cater to folks who are already in shape and want to stay that way. Besides, higher gasoline prices make the decision to work out at home all the more economically attractive.
And what about diet clubs? You think Wii Fit won't cause NutriSystem (Nasdaq: NTRI ) , eDiets (Nasdaq: DIET ) , and Weight Watchers (NYSE: WTW ) to skip a beat, since their weight-management solutions rely on camaraderie and prepared meals? I beg to differ.
Sure, the success of Nintendogs didn't kill the local pet store, but Wii Fit offers a sensible fitness solution. The perpetual updates -- and encouragement -- from Wii Fit will likely be considered a cost-effective replacement to existing alternatives.
Nintendo's timing also couldn't be any better, especially with those high gas prices. So is Nintendo just perpetually lucky, or is it really that good? Deep down inside, you know the answer. Don't sweat it with your response.
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