The boss of virtual reality specialist Oculus has said that Nintendo’s failed Virtual Boy platform was harmful to the whole virtual reality movement.
In a second Reddit AMA, Palmer Luckey rightly points out that the Virtual Boy was not really a virtual reality device in any sense of the word. Nonetheless, its association with the term has left a negative legacy.
“Not really a VR device, IMO. No head tracking, low field of view, essentially a monochrome 3DTV,” he argued. “A real shame, too, because the association of the Virtual Boy with VR hurt the industry in the long run.
“It did have the first LED display in a consumer device, though – probably the best contrast of any display up to that point.”
Virtual Boy was released in 1995. Despite being marketed as a portable device, it was used via a table-top mount. Users weren’t able to move their head freely around a 3D environment, although the display – which was limited to shades of red – was the first to offer parallax 3D gaming.
However, the unit was discontinued after just six months after falling drastically short of Nintendo’s multi-million expectations. Its poor range of software, weak marketing and comparatively high price were problematic, but it was the sickness and headaches it induced that were the real killer.
Elsewhere in the AMA, Luckey also addressed concerns about Oculus Rift’s £500 RRP.
“If you have a Samsung phone, Gear VR is your current best bet,” he responded to one gamer lamenting their inability to afford the unit. “Your crappy PC is the biggest barrier to adoption, which is why we are working with all the major hardware vendors to optimize for VR.
“If ‘normal’ PCs get good enough to run VR, then the majority of people will be able to buy a relatively cheap headset and just use whatever computer they already own to drive it.”