The athletic footwear giant launched NikeFuel Missions this week, a series of games that encourage bursts of physical activity for users of its Nike+ products. Anyone with free Nike+ apps on their smartphones or Microsoft's (MSFT) Kinect for Xbox 360 can play, though the gameplay is naturally more seamless for owners of Nike's GPS watches, Nike+ footwear, or the FuelBand monitoring devices that were introduced earlier this year.
Get Moving ... or Else
NikeFuel Missions take place in a post-apocalyptic world that's freezing over.
"Move or perish" is the command, as players embark on timed goals to surpass certain levels of NikeFuel, the company's proprietary metric that measures all form of movement and activity.
A mission can be as simple as revving up 300 points in NikeFuel in 30 minutes.
There are three difficulty settings -- easy, medium, or hard -- so success can be achievable for moderately active users without boring more fitness-oriented players.
Players aren't alone on their missions. Nike has tapped into its pool of celebrity endorsers for animated versions of popular athletes. NFL receiver Calvin Johnson, soccer star Alex Morgan, sprinter Allyson Felix, and Brazilian soccer icon Neymar are all part of the game.
Money in Motion
NikeFuel Missions are free, just as many of the Nike+ applications.
How will Nike cash in on the freebies? Well, the brand titan is no dummy. It knows that folks who lead active lifestyles will have to replace their shoes more often. Soles don't last forever. And as armchair warriors get moving, Nike's sweat-wicking clothing becomes a natural purchase.
Nike rolled out the $149 FuelBand in February, and it's been a hit. The first shipments sold quickly, sending consumers to pay a premium for the bracelets that monitor NikeFuel, steps taken, and calories burned.
They're easier to find these days, and it's a good time for that. After flopping in its launch last year, Jawbone is back with an updated version of its $130 Up health monitor bracelet. Up lacks the plug-free Bluetooth connectivity that Nike's wristband offers, but it does raise the ante with sleep monitoring.
The market for these monitoring bracelets will naturally heat up this holiday shopping season. Nike's just making sure that it doesn't get passed up in this promising niche.
Move or perish, as Nike would say.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz has no positions in the stocks mentioned above, but he does own a Nike+ FuelBand. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Nike. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Microsoft and Nike.