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Wii Fit Is No Fad

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The Wii Nation has spoken: Wii Fit is no fad.

Last week I got into a bit of metaphorical hot soup when a Forbes article quoted me as saying that I didn't know a single person who bought Wii Fit and used it routinely after a month.

Now I do.

Between the dozens of emails I received and the follow-up story that ran on Yahoo, I now know of lots of people who not only still use Wii Fit, but love it.


And that shouldn't come as a surprise. When I said I didn't know anyone who continued to use the bit of exercise gaming from Nintendo, I meant that literally. It stands to reason that a game which just last month sold more than three-quarters of a million copies would have quite a few health-conscious fans.


The Wii, and January's top selling game the Wii Fit, are helping to keep an entire industry afloat.


Not to look a gift horse or a contingent of casual gamers in the mouth, I quickly rounded up everyone who emailed me and turned them into my own person mini-focus group.

Here's what I learned.

Most of these gamers bought the Wii for family use or for their children and then started horning in on the gaming action.


Once they purchased Wii Fit, most of the people I spoke with used it five to seven days a week. Those efforts, they told me, netted them everything from a better sense of balance to losing 50 to 70 pounds.

But are they gamers? For the most part, they were, with all but one of the people I spoke with owning at least one other console over their lives. Some currently own multiple systems. One owns a PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360, DS and PSP. Most also own quite a few games.


I also asked them about how they found out about the Wii and if they shared the good word. Most heard about the Nintendo console from friends or family and plenty went on to tell friends and family to go buy a Wii creating a sort of organic marketing campaign without any help from Nintendo.

These people certainly aren't hardcore gamers, but they're also not the type I'd typically identify as casual gamers. They are a new breed of gamer, hardcasuals, if you will. Gamers who, for the most part, have limited time and interest in gaming.


Instead of viewing video games as a time-consuming hobby, they see it as an amusement or perhaps, in the case of Wii Fit, a way to make something generally disagreeable more fun.

While this group of 30 or so gamers certainly aren't statistically relevant, I think their take on gaming, coming from a place where Nintendo's casual Wii has taken root, offers some interesting insights into the way the phenomenon has spread.


And they are certainly a type of gamer that publishers other than Nintendo are pursuing. With titles like Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009 and My Fitness Coach both in January's top 20 games and Electronic Arts preparing to roll out their own take on Wii Fit, I think it's safe to say developers don't see the Wii Fit as a fad either.


Well Played is a weekly column about the big news of the week in the gaming industry and its bigger impact on things to come. Feel free to join in the discussion.