Nintendo's Virtual Boy Failure Was A 'Real Shame' That Hurt The VR Industry, Says Oculus' Palmer Luckey


Palmer Luckey recently went in for a second Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit and expressed his thoughts on Nintendo's Virtual Boy, among other things.

The Oculus founder and CEO plainly stated that, in his opinion, the gadget from Nintendo had little to do with virtual reality.

Luckey's verdict, in which he rejects Virtual Boy from the VR family, came as an answer to a commenter who asked him about Nintendo's early take on VR more than a decade ago. Virtual Boy was launched by the Japanese company 11 years ago, but was pulled back from stores one year after its launch.  

The Oculus CEO pointed out why Virtual Boy is not a true VR system.

The gizmo had "[no] head tracking, low field of view, [and was] essentially a monochrome 3DTV," Luckey notes.

He goes on to add that the bleak faith of the Japanese device was sad for the manufacturing company and for the whole VR industry as a whole.

"The association of the Virtual Boy with VR hurt the industry in the long run," Luckey observes.

Luckey is not the only one who looks down on the Nintendo's handheld product. Time magazine listed it up along other items in a worst inventions chart.  

Oculus and its rivals, such as Samsung, Sony and HTC, put a lot of effort into bringing virtual reality products back into the limelight, and the hype surrounding the possibilities of both virtual reality and augmented reality is increasing.

However, Virtual Boy remains the black sheep in the herd, notorious for being a poorly implemented idea. In spite of the general criticism, Luckey commended Nintendo's 1995 release on account of its pioneering efforts.

"It did have the first LED display in a consumer device, though - probably the best contrast of any display up to that point," Luckey underlines in the AMA.

Nintendo's presence in the global virtual reality market is rather thin, at least at the moment.

At the E3 in June 2015, Reggie Fils-Aime from Nintendo told Polygon what changes should happen in order for the Japanese company to reenter the VR-manufacturing industry.

"What we believe is that, in order for this technology to move forward, you need to make it fun and you need to make it social," Reggie Fils-Aime commented.

In his view, the current approach to the VR is not fun and certainly is not social, either.

Fast-forward to the year 2016, when the much-awaited Oculus Rift finally opened pre-order lists. That's the good news, but a handful of not-so stellar headlines showed that the device is a bit pricier than initially expected.

A series of communication mishaps led the public into believing that the Oculus Rift VR camera will cost about $350, but the real price for the headset is $599. Those who enrolled in the pre-order can expect to see their VR cameras delivered by June this year.

When it comes to using the Oculus Rift headset for gaming, Luckey said the gadget is up to the task, but can do much more. He clarified that Oculus is just as apt for gaming as PlayStations's VR device, but there is a myriad of ways in which Oculus can be used for productivity purposes.

From architectural visualization to mechanical engineering design to DIY tutorials to medical education, users put Oculus Rift VR to work.

He also pointed out that there will be various VR features that will require some sort of hand controller or a joystick. The leader of Oculus compared the item that will give actual kinesthetic feedback to the user with the way the computer mouse appeared and evolved.

In a previous AMA meeting with Reddit users, Luckey answered questions regarding the gaming specs and quality of gaming experience that can be expected from his company's VR headset.

"You won't necessarily be able to play all games at MAX settings on the recommended spec," Luckey noted.

He later explained that a high quality gameplay experience (over 90 FPS) is guaranteed.

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