TOKYO (Reuters) - Nintendo’s hot Wii handheld console is adding a home fitness game to its arsenal before the key year-end gift season, pushing further into the increasingly lucrative health and lifestyle video game segment.
“Wii Fit” goes on sale in Japan on December 1 for about 8,800 yen or $75, using a pressure-sensing “balance board” that looks like a bathroom scale and reads movement.
It can be used to play virtual sports such as soccer and ski jumping, as well as training staples such as yoga and aerobics.
The game is another leg up for Wii in its rivalry with Sony’s PlayStation 3.
Wii has far outsold PS3, which Sony cut the price of by 10 percent in Japan this week, as consumers have flocked to Nintendo’s “Sports” software that allows them to play tennis or baseball, bowling or fishing.
Such “casual” games -- the term industry experts use for lifestyle-oriented software aimed at older games for whom slaying monsters holds little appeal -- are growing in popularity all over the world.
Last month, at Asia’s biggest video game expo in Tokyo, a Japanese game software maker showcased a digital yoga instructor, hoping to cash in on the craze sweeping an industry that has in the past offered stress relief through blowing up aliens.
Nintendo plans to bring “Wii Fit” training to world markets next year, as it looks to stretch a strong performance over Sony and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 even further.
The cutting-edge PS3 is more expensive and its game production often slower, while Nintendo has focused on easy-to-play games that expand the gaming population to women and the elderly.
Around the world, fans spend around $30 billion a year on electronic games and equipment and Asia accounts for a hefty portion of that, especially tech-savvy countried such as Japan and South Korea.