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Virtual Boy "Hurt the VR Industry," Rift Creator Palmer Luckey Says

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


In the 1990s, Nintendo experimented with commercial virtual reality hardware by way of the Virtual Boy. This product ultimately failed, and its shortcomings negatively affected the VR industry overall. That's according to 23-year-old Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey. In his second Reddit AMA in the space of a few days, Luckey said the Virtual Boy does not even deserve to be called a true VR device.

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"Not really a VR device, IMO," Luckey said when asked for his thoughts on the Virtual Boy. "No head-tracking, low field of view, essentially a monochrome 3DTV. A real shame, too, because the association of the Virtual Boy with VR hurt the industry in the long run."

Luckey wasn't all negative on the Virtual Boy, however. "It did have the first LED display in a consumer device, though," he said. "Probably the best contrast of any display up to that point!"

Sony (PlayStation VR) and Microsoft (HoloLens) are working in the VR/AR spaces with their own products, but the third major platform-holder, Nintendo, is not. And there's a good reason, according to Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.

The current state of virtual reality is "not fun" or social, two requirements that need to be met before Nintendo gets onboard.

"We have knowledge of the technical space, and we've been experimenting with this for a long, long time," Fils-Aime said back in June 2015. "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."

Preorders recently opened for the $600 Oculus Rift headset, with the first units pegged to ship in March. Luckey recently apologized for misleading supporters by saying Oculus was targeting a $350 price point.

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