Earlier this week, Japanese news site The Nikkei reported that Nintendo’s mysterious “Quality of Life” project had been cancelled. We hadn’t heard about the project basically since its unveiling, so it’s not really a surprise that it was canned. Still, it’s disappointing that we’ll never get to see what Nintendo had planned for this new branch of its business.
With this interesting concept now behind us, we’d like to take a look back at the history of what will forever be an unresolved thread of Nintendo’s story.
Iwata enters the “Blue Ocean”
It was January 2014, and Nintendo had just wrapped up the Year of Luigi, in which it posted a $456 million operating loss. Those were rough times for Nintendo, with the Wii U already lacking support through its first year.
At the investor’s conference at the end of January, Satoru Iwata closed the presentation with a new, wacky announcement: the Quality of Life initiative. During this time, wearable technology was exploding on the market, with the rise of smart watches on the horizon. Iwata wanted Nintendo to get its own piece of the pie — but, in traditional Nintendo fashion, the company wouldn’t take the traditional route.
“Nintendo is a company that sees the true value of entertainment lies in its individuality,” Iwata said. “Following others into the exceedingly crowded market of mobile applications or the market of wearable technology that is expected to become increasingly competitive and fighting with brute force is not our way of doing business.”
Nintendo announced plans to jump over the mobile market by skipping straight to non-wearable devices to improve quality of life. By expanding the gaming audience and the “fit population,” the company would see an overall increase in customers. Iwata was excited to enter a new “blue ocean” of market possibilities.
The first device was supposed to be revealed in 2014, and then get released in the second half of 2015. Sadly, that never came to fruition.
Wii U’s last stand
At E3 2014, there was no mention of Nintendo’s Quality of Life initiative. Nintendo’s presentation was an all hands on deck operation to rescue the Wii U from its rapidly approaching irrelevance.
Smash Bros., an early Zelda Wii U trailer, and new IP Splatoon led the charge, with the new announcement of amiibo there to lend a helping hand. With Nintendo’s complete focus on games, Quality of Life fell by the wayside.
Kimishima and the Sleep Sensor
At the initiative’s announcement, Iwata announced plans for a non-wearable sleep sensor that tracked your quality of sleep and gave a report in the morning. After Iwata’s passing in 2015, Tatsumi Kimishima took over as Nintendo’s president.
The next year, he announced that the sleep sensor had been shelved for the time being, saying it would likely never become a real product. Still, he reiterated that Nintendo still saw a lot of Quality of Life possibilities, and that they would continue their research.
Quality of Life
Earlier this week, Nintendo’s stock plummeted 5% in conjunction with the cancellation of the Quality of Life division. Nintendo has always been known for wacky ideas that have the potential to shake up the industry. With the Wii Vitality Sensor, R.O.B. on the NES, and even today’s examples like detaching Joy-Con and Nintendo Labo, Nintendo will always be the video game industry’s innovative toy maker.
It’s sad that we’ll never get to see Nintendo tackle the health industry, because I’m sure we would have seen some crazy innovations unlike anything on the market. Even though the officially branded Quality of Life initiative has been shelved, Nintendo still manages to improve the quality of our lives every day with its exciting games, characters, and stories.
Source: The Nikkei via My Nintendo News
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