Jillians Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009 is the Biggest Loser!!
NOTE: I have been sitting on this blog entry for a week, not wanting to post it. After writing it, I decided that it really was too harsh and I didn’t like the spirit of it. I am guessing I could use a vacation because I normally can write about people ripping other people off without getting too upset… but just how bad this product is upsets me. In any case I will post it here and please comment if you think I am going too far.
I am not a huge fan of fitness video games. I don’t think that they will be very helpful to many people, but instead a bit of a gimmick that you won’t stick with and will become more discouraged. I love the idea of fitness video games (as I have been a recovering video game addict my entire adult life), and there are many compelling components to these games that make them exciting, like progressing through levels, timing exercises and varying your workout and tracking statistics.
That said, there are numerous problems. The first problem is that there isn’t enough of a sensor system to make this work, and there may never be. Seriously how are we going to measure if your plank is right, or your push ups? The second problem is that the motivation isn’t very strong. A computerized person saying, ‘come on, you can do it’ will never compare to a real person standing there, who really knows what you can do. Also, video games seem like fun so we want to do them, but fitness is hard so this combination really doesn’t work well together and the current batch of fitness games isn’t a lot of fun. Finally, you are much more likely to stick with fitness if it gets you out and into new social situations, something that won’t happen with videogames.
Still, if you are the kind of person who does workout and get fit with an exercise video, then video games offer a little bit more customization and control than a video, so for some people they might be an excellent fit. As well, they will probably progress tremendously over the next few years, maybe plugging into treadmills and bikes, allowing for more controllers than just the balance board.
Apparently what won’t work for anyone though, is Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009… Yes, according to Kotaku.com, who has been monitoring usage of Wii games for the last few years, Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum is the least played game on the Wii. It is clocking in with less than 2 hours per user. Given the number of sales of this product, it looks like no one is using this product after they get it home and out of the box.
The reviews of this game are terrible. It has one star on CNet, with comments like ‘Horribly BORING!!!’, ‘I want my money back’, and ‘Horrible do not buy’. This game is terrible on an unimaginable level, but you never know with reviews if people are, at the end of the day, playing it or not. Apparently it is a lot more of the latter and a lot less of the former.
There are some disclaimers here. First and foremost, the methodology that they use for tracking is explained here. Second, some games get such little play or sell so few copies that they don’t even make the reported usage numbers from Nintendo (apparently somewhere around 50,000 hours). I am guessing that is the case with Fitness Ultimatum 2010, which the best thing that anyone appears to say about it is that it is better than the 2009 offering. As well, these statistics come from users who have hooked their system up to the Nintendo network, so the numbers will be biased towards online fighting games. Still, don’t think that means that fitness games won’t rank highly. Wi Fit has, as of July 1st, a per-player playing time of 21 hours and 57 minutes!!
Fitness Ultimatum 2009 is liked and used 1/10 as much as Wi Fit… What this means is that if you are likely to get fit using an exercise video game, Wi Fit looks like a pretty good choice.
I hate to say it, but this is exactly what happens when your sign your name to licensing deal after licensing deal without a care for the people who follow her or buy her products (I really don’t hate to say this at all, actually I quite enjoy it). I would like to say she is a one person licensing machine, sucking every possible dollar from her adoring public for whatever piece of crap she can slap a branding sticker on, but this would be entirely disingenuous. Empowered Media, Jillian Michaels company is actually helmed by Giancarlo Chersich, a licensing expert, so there are at least two people behind this plundering of Jillian Michaels brand name for profit. Seriously, if you are about to release a product like this, why wouldn’t you just halt release until it is improved?
I have already railed against the magic pills that she is selling, right in the face of written evidence that she thinks pills like this are crap, or, at least, she did before she started selling them. She has licensed this terrible video game, she has a new TV show, she is licensing shoes, an exercise machine and apparently a ‘Wellness Cruise’. According to Giancarlo Cherisch, the cruise “encompasses all aspects of our brand philosophy. It will embody Jillian’s core messaging as well as introduce key experts that compliment and broaden the scope of our brand.” Hmm… the guy really sounds like he cares about the suckers exercisers who are going on this cruise, and not about his brand… after all, he can’t use a full sentence without fitting in the word brand…
With the pills, Jillian Michaels claimed she searched out the best doctors in the world to develop her unique pills and that is why she never recommended anyone ever take pills before, because her pills hadn’t yet been invented. I wonder, did she say the same thing about the video game. Did she search out the greatest developers known to man, and only when they had created the greatest game ever did she agree to put her name on it… That doesn’t appear too likely.
If I could, I would implore Jillian to stop this reckless branding, tell her that people are really getting hurt, but I can’t because Jillian and I aren’t talking to each other any longer (after I exposed Dr. Nathalie Chevreau as a Basic Research spokesperson..). Maybe someone else can ask her to stop extending her brand and stick with what she does best, motivating people to get fit. She does do that very well.