Nintendo is in a bit of a bind when it comes to virtual reality. The company’s big focus right now is its new NX console, scheduled for March, but it’s still looking into VR tech. The problem is, it might not work well for the company’s kid-friendly image, and Nintendo has been hurt by VR before in a very costly way.
According to a report published by The Verge on Friday, legendary Nintendo creative genius Shigeru Miyamoto worries about what happens when players use virtual reality headsets for a long time.
Miyamoto also has concerns about how parents will feel seeing their children strapped into VR headgear. Parental concerns are a core component of Nintendo’s approach to hardware: the 3DS had warnings that children under 7 should not use the 3D feature, and the later 2DS version removed the feature altogether and made it safer for young children.
There’s something more concerning, though. Nintendo was burned by virtual reality once before — the Virtual Boy in the 1980s was a colossal failure — so it’s understandable it may have some reservations about throwing itself behind gaming goggles once again.
This is something Miyamoto expressed during the meeting: it might be hard to actually sell virtual reality to people, as it’s highly dependent on people trying it out and understanding it for themselves. It’s harder to explain to people through advertising why they should care, which could hinder commercial viability.
The first major console-centered test for virtual reality will come with the launch of PlayStation VR. Set for release later this year at $349, Sony has lined up a number of key developers to create new experiences for the platform.
Even though we know almost nothing about it, Nintendo is working hard on its NX console. That’s likely to be the focus for the forthcoming year, as the company works to court developers and build out a solid game library. Nonetheless, the idea of a virtual reality Super Mario game sometime in the future sounds pretty cool.