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Why Nintendo's healthcare foray might be huge.
by tomas sala on 02/27/14 04:36:00 am   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Okey I thought about it for a while, and this is a huge step. Nintendo announcing a foray into healthcare. Here's a link to the story. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/31/technology/nintendo-chief-announces-foray-into-health-care.html?_r=1

Here's why I think it could be a big deal.

A future filled with digital tools for parents, to mentor and challenge their children, we can all imagine it, and have so for a long time. But efforts have been fragmented and experimental. We call it serious games and applied games, and I've been at it for over a decade. I know a future like this will happen, the demand has been there for years , and some companies will be dominant in this market.

But who do parents trust to do this?, certainly not apple or Google, but perhaps Nintendo. And with their stable of lovable and responsible IPs, its a no-brainer that these are the characters who will teach your children better and exercise them better than any other established IP or brand now in existence. A trusted brand that has no history of being in bed with Big data, a bit old fashioned even, trust-able.. 

Imagine a world in which you as parents subscribe to Nintendo services and hardware that monitor and mentor your child. Nintendo characters will challenge your child on learning and fitness in an entertaining and responsible manner, while keeping you the parent in the loop with a select choice of smartphone apps.. 

Nintendo hardware that will grow with your child and accompany it for years, because we all know the kids of the future will have digital companions, and they will be Mario and Pokemon and Bowser. And they will be more than games. What shape I do not know, but it must remain a safe walled garden, for it to be safe for kids.

So if this is what Nintendo is doing, you will see some experiments in mobile apps, focused on fitness and community, maybe a learning app or two.. but definitely not Mario Kart or Pokemon. These they will sell through their own business models
and affordable hardware that will be carried by kids for years. And that hardware will report to the parents smartphone yes, but that will be the hard border for any mobile content. And to be honest  you don't want to give your kid a 800$ smartphone, especially if that opens the kid up to a world of cyber-bullying, selfies gone awol, sneaking microtransactions and worst.

Nintendo cannot afford to "just" be another mobile content provider, you will never trust King or Rovio with your child's development. How great their games might be, they can by sheer history of their business model never be as trust-able as Nintendo. 

Its a transition in business model only Nintendo can make, and validates all their weird quirks and disconnectedness. It will make them an indispensable tool for future parents, and a staple of many kids development.. 

I think Nintendo is as wise an investment as ever.  And if Nintendo gives in to those trying to push it to become the next mobile publisher, it will lose its biggest asset. A trust and solidity built on a generation of doing it their way..

 

 

 


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