Nintendo launching new platform for improving 'quality of life'

Though the 3DS is still doing swimmingly, the Wii U's struggles have Nintendo thinking about its future, and what part gaming will play in that. The company today announced plans for a new business branch focused on, in its own words, "improving people's quality of life in enjoyable ways," built on new hardware. Starting with health, down the trail blazed by Wii Fit, the QoL platform will head away from traditional games.

"We wish to achieve an integrated hardware-software platform business that, instead of providing mobile or wearable features, will be characterized by a new area of what we like to call 'non-wearable' technology," company president Saturo Iwata said in today's financial results briefing.

Quite what form this will take is a mystery. "Including the hardware that will enable such an idea, we will aim to establish a blue ocean," Iwata said, so some form of new tech is coming.

While it'll start with ways to improve people's health, the "quality of life" ocean will reach further in time, touching shores like "learning" and "lifestyle." It's already taken tentative steps into these with Brain Age, Art Academy, its cooking games, and language software. Iwata notes that Nintendo's also looking at themes it hasn't yet incorporated into games.

Part of me can't help but imagine a terrifying cyberpunk dystopia where everything we learn and do is taught, monitored, rated, and encouraged by Nintendo.

Intriguingly, Iwata believes this QoL platform could feed back into Nintendo's gaming business, as exploring playfulness in new areas may teach lessons to video games. And, likewise, its gaming experience will help it keep users "engaged and entertained." The two will feed each other.

The new business is slated to launch between April 2015 and March 2016. Iwata says he'll reveal more, including specific features and quite what he means by "non-wearable," over this year.