Nintendo has never been afraid to push gaming boundaries. The gaming granddaddy popularised the portable gaming device with the Game Boy, pushed 3D gaming in new ways with the 3DS, and brought motion control technology to the masses with the Wii. Nintendo has even tried its hand at virtual reality gameplay before, through the ill-fated — and now notorious — Virtual Boy console.
However, it looks like virtual reality is not part of the immediate plans for the video games giant. In fact, Shigeru Miyamoto — the brain behind such iconic franchises as Mario and The Legend of Zelda — believes the concept of virtual reality is in “direct contrast” with what the company wants to achieve with its flagship console, the Wii U.
Speaking with TIME, Miyamoto explains that the Wii U’s future is not one with virtual reality in store. This certainly bucks the growing current trend, with Sony’s Project Morpheus pushing virtual reality gaming towards the home console market, and Facebook’s buyout of Oculus VR showing that there’s plenty of VR interest in the tech industry outside of gaming. So why, exactly, does Miyamoto think the Wii U and VR are a bad fit?
One could suspect it’s to do with Nintendo’s checkered history with virtual reality. However, Miyamoto explains that this isn’t the case, and in fact talks up Nintendo’s history with VR. “We’ve been doing our own experiments with virtual reality dating back to the Virtual Boy,” said Miyamoto. “The 3DS was designed with a little bit of this in mind with its stereoscopic 3D. So we’re always looking at hardware and assessing what’s possible.”
Instead, Nintendo’s stance on virtual reality is more to do with what Nintendo wants out of the Wii U in the first place. Miyamoto says that Nintendo has always thought of the Wii U as a social experience. “What we’re trying to do with the Wii U is to create games for everyone in the living room,” Miyamoto states. “It’s intended to be fun not only for the person who’s playing, but also for the people who are watching.”
Miyamoto continues by saying that a virtual reality system where a gamer spends “all their time alone playing in that virtual reality” is not part of the Wii U’s ideology. In fact, it’s in “direct contrast.” Miyamoto admits he feels uneasy about the role of VR with Nintendo’s console, and that he feels it may not be “the best way for people to play.”
That’s not to say that Nintendo is never going to experiment with virtual reality again, however. In fact, he says that Nintendo does have “interest in the technology” — but not in the home console market just yet. Instead, Miyamoto gives a hint at how he feels virtual reality could be best implemented. He feels that “it might be better suited to some sort of attraction style of entertainment, say something at a video game arcade or things like that.”
What do you think of Miyamoto’s virtual reality concerns? Do you think he’s right that VR is wrong for the Wii U? Would you be likely to try out a virtual reality arcade system like he suggests? Let us know in the comments.