Remember the Virtual Boy?
Unless you followed the gaming industry closely in the mid 90s, it’s likely you’ve never heard of what is widely regarded as Nintendo’s worst video game console. Marketed as the first video game console to support 3D graphics, Nintendo’s Virtual Boy was uncomfortable, could only produce various shades of red, and is a shining example of how not to approach virtual reality.
Shortly after its release in 1994, and following subsequent price drops, Nintendo pulled support for the device in 1996, resulting in the virtual boy becoming Nintendo’s second lowest selling console (behind the Nintendo 64DD).
But despite the failure of the Virtual Boy, arguably one of the first VR headsets widely available to consumers, Nintendo reportedly has renewed interest in virtual reality.
During a recent earnings call, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said that he feels VR is “interesting technology.” Adding further fuel to VR rumour is a report stemming from The Financial Times indicating the Japanese company is experimenting with virtual reality technology, but that it has no immediate plans to release virtual reality related products.
With the release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive looming on the horizon, and Nintendo’s strategy of adopting emerging tech and then building its devices around that innovation, it makes sense for the company to be looking into VR.
The Wii U, Nintendo’s most recent video game console, continues to struggle in the sales and software department, forcing Nintendo to turn its focus on the future. While VR might be a direction Nintendo is considering, the company’s future efforts likely centre on the NX, a handheld-console hybrid device, and smartphone games developed through a partnership with DeNA.