Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey expresses his distaste with the legacy of Virtual Reality in gaming, stating that the Nintendo Virtual Boy ‘hurt’ the industry.
With the emergence of Virtual Reality as a viable video game form, many gamers suspect that this year is going to be a huge year for VR. However, the fledgling industry has a black mark against its name from years gone by, in the form of the Nintendo Virtual Boy. In fact, even Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey has stated his opinion on the failed device, stating that the Virtual Boy hurt the VR industry.
Luckey followed up his previous Reddit AMA thread with another, and this time around one of the topics was Nintendo’s doomed handheld. The Oculus co-founder clearly does not feel that the Virtual Boy has improved with time, with Luckey stating “the association of the Virtual Boy with VR hurt the industry in the long run.” Luckey even questioned the viability of the handheld as a VR device at all, explaining that the Virtual Boy had “no head-tracking, low field of view,” and that the console was “essentially a monochrome 3DTV.”
The Oculus creator did at least express some good will towards the failed device, however. “It did have the first LED display in a consumer device,” said Luckey whilst discussing the pioneering aspects of Nintendo’s console. He also admitted that the doomed headset also held the “best contrast of any display up to that point.”
The Virtual Boy is one of the rare truly failed releases of a Nintendo product, and one that had huge ramifications for the company as a whole. Initially released in 1995, the console less than a year on the market before being unceremoniously discontinued. It’s no wonder, either, with a dearth of quality content available and a bad habit of causing users to get headaches and nausea.
The Virtual Boy’s legacy may well be one of the reasons why Nintendo has yet to make another step into the world of VR. Nintendo has made other technological strides forward, popularising motion control with the Wii and bringing an affordable 3D handheld to the masses with the 3DS, but VR is not a part of Nintendo’s plan of action. Although Nintendo of America head Reggie Fils-Aime has stated that the current world of VR is “not fun,” some may wonder about why the company is remaining estranged from the technology, particularly when rivals such as Microsoft and Sony give it a home.
Palmer Luckey will no doubt be trying to avoid many of the pitfalls that Nintendo’s device suffered from, and it’s vital for the Rift’s success that it steers clear of similarities to the Virtual Boy. However, the $599 price tag of the headset may look distressingly familiar to gaming historians, with the Virtual Boy suffering from similar criticism of an exclusionary entry price. Let’s hope that the Rift fares better than its distant grandfather.