Are fitness games changing the face of video games? That's what the Associated Press is saying. According to a recent article, the country's largest sports retailer now carries Wii console games. The Sports Authority struck a deal with Nintendo last month and now you can find your Wii games right there between your soccer equipment and your treadmills.
Just a few short years ago, selling video games in a sports store would have been unheard of, but with the new wave of fitness games on the market, the pairing doesn't seem that unlikely. The craze started with the release of Nintendo's "Wii Fit." The motion controller and balance board made it possible to turn games into exercise and "exergames" has taken on a life of its own as a new genre in the video gaming world.
Gaming isn't just for teenagers and bachelors anymore, everyone's mom, aunt and grandma is working up a sweat with their Wii's. According to industry analyst Anita Frazier, sixty, seventy, and even eighty-year-olds are playing fitness games. And of course, this has game publishers working to cash in on fitness game craze, as well.
Electronic Arts, THQ, Ubisoft, and Majesco Entertainment have all come out with their own brand of exercise games, each with their own gimmick. But the biggest competitor to Wii Fit is Ea Sports Active which stars Oprah Winfrey's personal trainer, Bob Greene. "Before I made this commitment to do this project with EA Sports, I'll be honest, I was skeptical," Greene told the Associated Press. "What kind of workout can you really get? I looked at what was already on the market at the time. To me, it was mostly just slow movements and relaxation, which is a great part of overall well-being, however, it didn't actually challenge you."
Other games have celebrity names behind them as well. Jenny McCarthy is the famous face on Ubisoft's "Your Shape," a game that incorporates a digital camera to scan the player's body shape. And "The Biggest Loser" trainer Jillian Michaels is the face of Majesco's "Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010."
So, do these games actually help players lose weight or tone up? That hasn't been determined but a study by the American Council on Exercise called the Wii Fit a "very very mild workout."
Even so fitness game sales are climbing. EA Sports Active has sold over one million copies since its May release and the Wii Fit has sold over eight million copies. The sequel to the Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus, sold over 440,000 copies in October of this year. Next year, the exergame market won't belong to Nintendo alone. Microsoft and Sony are planning to launch motion controllers for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in an effort to compete with the Wii.