How important is Wii Fit to Nintendo’s future?

Wii FitConfession: I’ve been anticipating the release of Wii Fit since first experimenting with the title at E3 last year, for two reasons: I’m chunky, and the Ski Jump mini game was a blast. I’m hopeful other unannounced games will be just as enjoyable.

The health/mini-game software launched in Japan on Dec. 1 for $75 (including the balance board) and has sold more than 1 million copies to date, easily becoming a hit in its homeland. But is the product, like so many fitness wares before it, a fad? Will Americans buy it? Perhaps more importantly, does it matter to Wii’s continued success?

If Nintendo is expecting Wii Fit to help the majority of people lose weight, it will fail as a product, regardless of what it sells. I personally view Wii Fit as a way to boost my interest in health once again (read: finally get back to running once I see some initial results). In that regard, I believe Wii Fit will be a fad. But I’m also buying the package for being the spiritual successor to Wii Sports, and for the balance board’s future prospects. The second reason validates my love for shallow games, and the third reason clearly makes me a fanboy.

In the end, I suspect Wii Fit will sell as good in America as it does in Japan, but only temporarily. If I’m wrong, sustained sales will make Wii a bigger deal than it already is. If I’m right, the console will continue on its already impressive mainstream path.

But whatever happens with Wii Fit, all that matters to the game console is how frequent Nintendo keeps releasing stellar first party efforts, and how compelling third-party games end up being.