Family Trainer: Extreme Challenge

James Batchelor

Family Trainer: Extreme Challenge

The advent of Wii Fit has spawned a variety of fitness games and while they all go to great lengths to differentiate themselves from Nintendo’s retail phenomenon, many are largely similar. Family Trainer was truly different.

As the name implies, Family Trainer could be considered a fitness game that was designed for the whole family. However, instead of a clinical and bland interface leading to repetitive exercises, the game took a much more original approach.

Extreme Challenge follows the same structure. Gamers enjoy a series of challenges based on real-life sports and activities, controlling their actions with a combination of the Wii Remote and a special dance mat designed for the series. These are energetic enough to serve as good exercise but also outlandish enough to distance the new Family Trainer from other fitness titles.

 “Players have to use their whole body to rack up scores on mini-games such as wakeboarding, street luge and base jumping,” explains product manager Lauren Bradley.

“It’s an active game but the focus is on fun. Parents can be confident that it’s an energetic experience but ultimately very amusing and a game that the family won’t grow bored of.”

The original Family Trainer was a surprise hit when it arrived last September and now, one year on, Namco is keen to grown the brand into a fully-fledged franchise, with Extreme Challenge holding true to everything that made its predecessor popular.

“Family Trainer: Extreme Challenge is the second in the series on Wii and the previous version has proven to be a massive success,” says Bradley.

“Launching in autumn last year, sales of the first game hugely exceeded our expectations and have steadily amounted throughout the year.

“We’re very keen to build the Family Trainer brand so all marketing is geared towards a strong pre-Christmas launch for Family Trainer: Extreme Challenge and reinvigoration of the original Family Trainer, which we expect will also see a good spike in sales.”

While the original was released to little in the way of a fanfare, the sequel has already built up some momentum in the media. Word of Family Trainer’s charms has spread and Namco Bandai is working hard to use this hype to not only promote Extreme Challenge, but also raise awareness among the more casual gamers.

“Great reviews from the non-specialist media are already flowing in,” says Bradley. “The game has been described by some as better than the leading active Wii games.

“We expect we will see repeat purchase from fans of the first game. There is still a huge potential market out there to reach. Whilst we’re confident our marketing campaign will create consumers actively seeking the product, this game is a perfect impulse buy.”

FAMILY MARKETING

Namco has prepared a comprehensive above-the-line campaign to promote the new Family Trainer. The most significant investment has been in TV, with ads aimed at housewives and kids running in the weeks surrounding launch. There will also be print advertising focused on children’s publications, including Back To School covermounts.

Additional advertising and PR will run in non-specialist family and kids publications, including competitions,  photoshoots, reviews and an activity climbing day for mainstream media.

A large retail sampling tour will be hitting key locations throughout Scotland and England during half-term and weekends in the run-up to Christmas. Extreme Challenge will also be showcased at several consumer shows including the London MCM Expo in October.

Finally, activity has been secured with all major retailers to promote the game in-store, with added value goodies at key retail outlets with POS support.

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