Faced with a State of Gaming Decline Nintendo Will Now Tackle Healthcare (but no, Not Wearable Tech)

By Tony Rizzo January 31, 2014

Nintendo is dead. Long live Nintendo. We won't rehash the history of Nintendo - the original PC gaming company that brought us so many of the old computer games we geezers and old timey geeks used to play (don't laugh - we were the hot tech youngsters back then, and today's Angry Bird crazies will all also become geeky geezers in 20 years) that eventually reinvented itself and brought us the Wii - but it is now going through one of its inevitable "decline and re-invent" cycles. Why Nintendo was fated to always go through these cycles we don't know, but…

Our Angry Bird reference was made to underscore that Nintendo's key problem is that smartphones and tablets have completely taken over and no one is buying Nintendo's gaming platform any longer. Then there is of course Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox to consider - both of which are now in their next generations.

What's a gaming company with an ongoing history of large scale ups and downs to do? Well apparently developing yet another gaming platform won't work - and at least to Nintendo's credit it has realized it would be great folly to attempt to do so. In any case that is really the only rational conclusion we can come to following yesterday's announcement from Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata, who made it quite clear that Nintendo will…enter the health care industry.

Is it just us or does this truly seem a non sequitur?

Iwata however also made it very clear that Nintendo will also still stay the course of what Nintendo has always done, and he further noted that he would not allow a cut in current product prices - current dismal sales be damned, apparently. Nintendo reported Wednesday a 10.2 billion yen ($99 million) profit for April through December 2013, down from 14.55 billion yen ($142.6 million). The decline is directly attributable to the massive decline of sales of Wii U home consoles and 3DS hand-held devices.

It gets worse however. Nintendo's guidance was horrible (we can't think of any other word) -  it slashed its annual forecast for Wii U sales from 9 million units to just 2.8 million, to less than 33 percent of its previous estimates. Well, at least Iwata and other Nintendo executives took pay cuts for the company's poor performance and poor execution.

Iwata is well-known for being a stubborn soul - continually pushing aside any and all criticisms about the company needing to deal with mobile devices and the world of Angry Birds. Iwata simply refuses to make this move and has resisted changing or modifying Nintendo's overall business mix to fully include the realities of today's mobile device-driven world.

Rather than a pay cut perhaps Iwata should resign - but he most certainly does not see this as an option, and he certainly believes that Nintendo's "old ways" are still valuable when he says things such as, "Nintendo has value because it is different from others…" This is not exactly a sign of forward and visionary thinking.

But then, Iwata also announced his grand plan to take Nintendo into healthcare. On the surface it certainly sounds grand - but at its core it simply sounds delusional to us.

Nintendo offers fitness games of course, but these hardly merit use of the words "health care industry." Iwata of course provided absolutely nothing else in the way of details - with one very specific exception.

He clearly articulated that Nintendo's entry into the health care market will not be with a wearable technology device.

Hmm. Perhaps he means to keep to Nintendo's "old and different ways" by offering a Super Mario In-Home Doctor Visit platform that hospitals can implement. Well, why not? Certainly the Wii platform could lend itself to such a thing.

Of course patient privacy, patient data security and the huge and myriad numbers of regulations and compliance requirements at the federal, state and local level that Nintendo would need to navigate through and receive certifications on might prove a bit of a roadblock.

Iwata did refer to it all as a "quality of life" plan. For today, that is all we know. Iwata promised to disclose details later this year but we somehow can't bring ourselves to believe there is anything serious here. Still, we all said the same when the company introduced the Wii, so we can't simply dismiss Nintendo yet. But the odds are against the company reinventing itself along these lines.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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