Nintendo and Heart Association Team Up, Fall Short

By  |  Monday, May 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm

The American Heart Association just gave Nintendo an encouraging slap on the rear by endorsing the Wii and a couple of games.

It’s a great development for Nintendo. The AHA will stick a stamp of approval on two of Nintendo’s in-house titles, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus, along with the console itself. The association will also showcase the Wii at “Find a Start! Heart Walk” events around the country. You can’t buy marketing like that (Update: Actually, you can. ABC News reports that Nintendo paid $1.5 million for a three-year endorsement).

The AHA’s gains from the partnership are more ambiguous. Exposure? The appearance of being on the cutting edge of fitness? Neither motivation would trouble me if the association were doing more than just declaring Nintendo to be its star player.

If I were an executive at Electronic Arts, I’d be livid. Last year, the publisher released EA Sports Active, a game specifically designed for exercise, unlike Nintendo’s fun-oriented Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus. Beyond EA, there are plenty of other third-party games with an eye towards fitness, such as The Biggest Loser, Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum and Just Dance. Where’s the AHA stamp of approval for those titles? For that matter, should the AHA still pledge allegiance to Nintendo when Microsoft and Sony release their own motion controllers?

The AHA could be doing so much more with the active play concept. It could rate individual games based on the difficulty of their workouts. It could give advice on how to make the most of each exercise game. Heck, if the group really had some ambition, it could create an online metagame for people to share and track their progress through multiple AHA-approved titles.

As it stands, the partnership between Nintendo and the AHA is a gimmick whose value barely exceeds the bullet points on the back of game boxes. Once the Wii Fit Plus gets stowed away in a dusty corner, with no endorsed products to replace it, the stamp of approval is meaningless.



3 Comments For This Post

  1. Stilgar Says:

    Nothing more than a PR move. Why did they have to do this to the Wii? Why not footballs, baseball bats, etc.? Oh, I know why, because it wouldn’t have been all over the media.

  2. Juggle Says:

    “You can’t buy marketing like that.” – Inaccurate, companies pay groups like the heart association to do these. The AHA won’t put their stamp on the other products because only Nintendo is paying them. Don’t confuse this with anything other than a bought and sold sponsorship deal.

  3. Jared Newman Says:

    Hey Juggle,

    You’re right. ABC News confirmed that Nintendo paid $1.5 million for the deal. I’ve updated the story accordingly, thanks.