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Joystiq presents

Let's Yoga: Let's market games!

In our final look at Konami's Let's Yoga, we thought we'd spend some time discussing training games like this in general, as well as their reception in the U.S. In many parts of the world, training games are big, but not so much in the U.S. beyond Brain Age and its sequel. If we had to guess, we would say that part of that is due to marketing.

Can you walk into your local Best Buy and pick up Let's Yoga? Can you order it from Amazon? Sure. But how many people know it exists ... and of those few, how many might actually buy a copy? Let's assume that most gamers don't have the benefit of the DS Fanboy yogathon to let them know that this training game (like another we checked out) may actually be worth their while. Without that knowledge, how many gamers might show any interest in such a title? Probably not very many, even among those actually fascinated by yoga.

Gallery: Let's Yoga

But is that their fault? We don't think so. Not only are few training games really advertised (and few as well as this one) in the U.S., and even the box art sometimes works against the titles. Let's take a look at Let's Yoga's boxes:

The Japanese and European boxes feature softer, more relaxed art, without the dumbed-down explanation of the benefits of yoga. The U.S. box, on the other hand, seems very definitely geared to a non-gaming crowd. Next to exercise equipment or DVDs, this might stand out. Amongst gaming titles? The box is a turn-off; there's something shovelware-ish about it, despite Konami's logo, and beyond, it's simply unattractive and looks Photoshopped around the model's abs. Anyone notice they're a slightly different color than the rest of her? And not in a natural, gets-less-sun way, either.

On the other hand, package this game with a yoga mat and move it to a different part of a store, or even a different store altogether, and it might have been a complete hit. It's something we've talked about before (and something that may soon be happening), and not because it's a radical idea, but because it works in other markets. Insomnia's Alex Kierkegaard might have been on to something, however inadvertently, with his recent rant about non-games: maybe we need to consider them as just that. Sure, some can be considered games, even if not in a traditional sense, and gamers may be interested in them, but they have the potential to move beyond gaming circles ... so why do we continue to sell them in the gaming section? Is it enough to hope that Mom may pick up Let's Pilates while buying Phantom Hourglass as a gift? How realistic is that scenario? Our gaming parents usually get recommendations from us, and if we're not talking about something like Let's Yoga, odds are they're not going to be.

Even a few simple ads patterned after the above, strategically placed in magazines or on television, might have been enough. Showing off real people playing real games has worked for the Wii and the DS so far; why wouldn't it work with a title like this? Non-gamers have shown themselves willing to take the risk and pick up a console or handheld, but there's an even larger untapped market out there, just waiting for titles like this. Unfortunately, no one's told them that.

The DS has a lot more to offer besides just traditional games, and we love to test the efficacy of training titles! Keep up with our yogathon as it happens, or for more features like this, check out our week with My French Coach.

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