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Oculus Rift Founder Says Nintendo’s Virtual Boy ‘Hurt’ The VR Industry

Palmer Lucky, the founder behind upcoming Virtual Reality platform Oculus Rift, has recently taken part in a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread. During the discussion Lucky was asked about his thoughts on the Virtual Boy. He said that it was not really a Virtual Reality device and if anything the association of the Virtual Boy with Virtual Reality actually hurt the VR industry.

Not really a VR device, IMO. 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.

It did have the first LED display in a consumer device, though – probably the best contrast of any display up to that point!

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75 thoughts on “Oculus Rift Founder Says Nintendo’s Virtual Boy ‘Hurt’ The VR Industry”

    1. Still exciting times in gaming tho. I can invision the potential. I’m more excited about hologram stuff tho. Can’t wait til that’s a thing!

  1. I fail to see how. I mean, it’s awefull, but it didn’t stop people from dreaming of better devices. It’s not like the oculus would have happened ten years earlier if the Virtual boy wasn’t released….

        1. Yeah I’d actually like to know what the exact phrasing of the question was. Just saying somebody asked his thoughts on Virtual Boy isn’t enough. I think we all pretty much have the same basic thoughts on it at this point.

    1. It may not stop people from desiring it, but it makes companies hesitate in putting in resources to a technology if it’s considered a failure. And it would have been a lot sooner if big tech companies devoted more money and resources into the field of VR if they saw financial success.

      1. Yeah, but even then. Every product made back then, or even five years ago would be something aweful, of even more expensive and offputting to consumers then it is now. And even then is calling put to a bad product from years ago nothing that’s necessary. It’s not like the first game consoles were perfect, and stood where they stand now. Or computers, or phones, …

  2. I’m super pumped for the Oculus Rift! My PC is already pass the required specs and I already have a game to test it with when I get it. :D

            1. It’s the best feeling ever right lol. I’ve built a few myself, mostly low end though (i3’s and pentiums) I’m too scared to mess up on $200-$300 processor’s, I just can’t go through with it XD

              1. When I put my CPU into the socket, it did not close all the way. And I was freaking out. But I read the little Intel manual that came with it and I totally forgot that there was an arrow to indicate which direction it’s supposed to be put in. I repositioned it and it closed. Thank god. XD

  3. I don’t think it hurt the VR industry in the longrun, though. Barely anybody outside the gaming community knows what the Virtual Boy was, let alone anybody who would associate it with modern virtual reality technologies.

    1. All consoles had their own terrible “3D” glasses type of add ons that were supposed to be that time’s “VR”. You looked really dumb wearing them and it almost didn’t do anything for you.

  4. VR is not going to be heading to main stream anytime soon pal, ur device can only be used by the best of the best PCs to get a full experience. Not to mention what are you really selling to people? What games that uses this tech will change the way we think about game design? Is this thing really worth 600$ to a gamer. thats like almost 10 games were spending for maybe one or two games that will use the tech the right way.

    1. Probably not for a while, but there is still potential for the market to grow beyond gaming. There are a lot of different sectors that are looking at using VR, including practical use in hospitals, and education in medicine, psychology, etc. You got to think beyond the scope of gaming as something VR can have a place in, because these fields could very well benefit from it. Microsoft is looking at it with the use of Holo Lens; and even CNN covered a story on a doctor that performed a very difficulty surgery with the help of Google’s cardboard VR, infact the inclusion of VR helped the surgery go better.

      Right now, VR still has a ways to go before it can be something of a staple in gaming, but in terms of usability, VR already meets that requirement. The games will come over time; it may not be worth while for some people; but like any console launch, if it proves to be a success, then the market will support it. It all depends on whether or not there are enough people hyped up for it; and if those people are willing to spend the money on it…. We will find this out soon enough.

  5. Virtual Reality (and Oculus) will die off. I give it 3 years. I just don’t think it will catch on to pull in enough players. It’ll be a “wow” thing at first, but then people will get tired of it and label it as another fad just like motion gaming. Plus, with the crazy pricetag, and lack of interesting games that are doing more than just a tech demo.. yeah, good luck with that. I still haven’t been able to care about it at all. Also, beware if you have motion sickness. Lol

  6. Actually, it was that comment that ruined the industry now. When you diss one of Nintendo’s first products to try and make something you’re working on sound better, just because they have one small thing that’s similar, that’s shameful and sad “IMO” and he doesn’t deserve my business.

      1. I am a fanboy, but if his reason for “virtual reality industry being hurt” had anything to do with Nintendo, I would accept that. He’s making up bs excuses and we all know it. The virtual boy did fail. But how does that hurt the virtual reality industry in recent times? Answer? It doesn’t. Simple as that.

  7. I’ll be the first to condemn Nintendo of any wrong-doing, and everyone knows that’s fucking true… But this is just as hilariously ridiculous as Gamestop blaming Nintendo’s poor WiiU sales for their financial drop… And what’s more, Gamestop is closing stores. And it’s not Nintendo’s fault any more than any alleged injury to the VR business.

    Dumb mother fuckers everywhere.

  8. No VR was already dead before it begun. IN THE 80’S. When people still imagined what it would be like. And with this disrespectful statement the final nail is down. Oculus Derp. Because that’s what you’ll look like after using this new gimmick.

  9. um i think that the price tag (600$ and thats not including tax and shipping) will hurt Rift more than the virtual boy ever could. I dont really see VR gong anywhere anytime soon. yeah its cool to be in the game but not every works with being in first person

  10. The Virtual Boy was garbage. But sorry. VR was gimmicky then and it’s still gimmicky now. Don’t blame the Virtual Boy for that. I won’t invest in VR for my gaming. No way.

  11. Did he really just place blame on a “VR” system that came out 20+ years ago? GG guy. blame your own decisions on what’s wrong with VR today, not some toy system that wasn’t even remotely close to what VR is…

    1. This guy really is just terrible. Example:

      He also claimed the $599 vs $699 (shipping not included, mind you) price tag is justified, and not “unfairly inflated” like the prices of other consoles. Sorry mate, but I don’t see anyone else selling their video game devices with a difference as huge as that one. Normally, $60 games get a 60€ price tag over here, with consoles being 400€ when they’re $400 in the US, for example. I’m not denying prices aren’t inflated here, because they are due to taxes and all that jazz, but I truly haven’t seen a difference in price as ridiculous as that one. That’s literally a difference of 150€/$260 – again, without shipping, which is another extra 40€-50€.

      He’s really not doing himself any kind of favor by making bs statements like these, especially on public platforms like Twitter and whatnot.

      1. Oculus Rift is 740€ after everything here.
        I’d rather buy new GPU with that money, and I just bought 600€ monitor, so VR can wait until its priced more consumer friendly.

        1. Yea, right now, the price is not consumer friendly at all, especially when considering the Oculus Rift is the first to “open” the new VR market. VR headsets are completely new in that form, and it’s not even going to work for every individual due to different reasons, so expecting your average consumer to pay so much money for tech that’s still so new and people are unfamiliar with doesn’t seem to the best way to approach the situation imo.

          1. Not only the price, but even setting it up is beyond common consumer (at least what I’ve read about Rift).
            It will take years closer to a decade before they can sell it to average consumer.
            Now that almost every tech giant is working on their own VR headset, unless they can agree on some basic standards, VR isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
            I just don’t see average consumer dropping even $300 to a peripheral for $400 console.
            But I hope Sony wont fuck up with their dabbling, because they probably can’t afford to take the hit.
            Though I don’t see Sony making VR “mainstream” in any case, they can’t afford to sell their device at loss, and I doubt most PS4 owners would not drop $600 on top of their $400 system to make it worth developers time.
            Though Rift is probably inflated currently, but Morpheus wont take off if its too expensive but quality, or if its cheap but crap.

            I’m interested in the concept though, and I’ll follow what Valve is going to do with their device, though Valve seems to be doing million things at the same time and not really committing or finishing any.

            1. Yea, and there’s also some other things to worry about, such as motion sickness being a thing, and how everyone’s body reacts differently to certain things. It could go as far as to make it barely usable for some people, simply because the body doesn’t tolerate it. Also, what about people with defective vision, those who need to wear glasses at all times? I do wear glasses, and I still haven’t figured out if I “qualify” for the usage of a VR headset. I mean, defective vision can be caused by a million different reasons and conditions, and it’s hard to believe the VR headsets are going to cover them all, making it work equally well for everyone.
              So the fact that simply not everyone’s body will be able to tolerate VR (at this stage, at least) seems like something that’s certainly going to stand in its way of turning into a general/mainstream success. Personally, I sure as hell won’t drop 600€ on a device that’s not even guaranteed to going work out for me, and I’m sure many other people will feel the same. So making it accessible without having to buy it, giving consumers the option to try it out prior purchasing, seems like an important thing to do.
              So yes, I certainly agree that it’s going to take a while for VR to establish itself and be a product for the average consumer, rather than being a pure luxury product for the “wealthy”. It’s just as you’ve said, the average consumer won’t spend hundreds of bucks on a peripheral.

              All that being said, I’m definitely interested as well, Sony’s headset in particular got my attention. But at this point I certainly can’t say that I’m going to buy it for sure or anything like that, the price is too much of an important factor for me to be able to decide that now. But either way, I hope I’ll get a chance to try it out in the near future, and in the meantime I’ll just continue to follow updates regarding it. :)

              1. Jaded Ridley Bowie X3 {R.I.P. David Bowie, the One & Only Goblin King!}

                Some people like me who suffer from anxiety (bad nerves) or high blood pressure could also very well not be able to handle VR. So yeah. Every person’s body could react differently to VR. The things we’re able to see thanks to our ability of sight can effect more than just our sight, after all.

      2. Wow! This is the first I hear about this price difference. I know you guys across the sea make more than us too but charging more than $300 than us (after taxes) is fucking rediculous. We are already complaining that now that the OR is costing $600, if it cost $900 we would’ve flipped out shit.


        1. Yeaa, it’s quite bad. And with a price like that, I honestly doubt the Oculus Rift is gonna be very successful here in Europe. 750€ is a LOT of money, and it’s just hard to believe people would spend so much for a product that’s still in its early stages, a niche product.
          That, however, gives both the HTC Vive and PS VR a great opportunity to claim the VR market in Europe for themselves if they do things right – and by “things” I mean, pretty much all they need to do is offering their products for a better price, which shouldn’t be too difficult for obvious reasons, I’ll assume.

          1. No, I’m fairly certain that Sony is just waiting for all the others to announce prices so they can come out and steal the show with the cheapest price. Even then though, I can’t see it being cheaper than $400. Even that though, should give OR a run for its money.

            You know, I just currently found out about the HTC Vibe, I had no idea they were even in the “market”.

            1. Yea, I definitely think so too. People were expecting Sony to reveal the price at CES a couple days ago, and were surprised it didn’t happen. Shouldn’t be too suprising though, it’s a smart move from a marketing standpoint to wait for the competition to reveal their prices first so they can adapt their own and make it as attractive as possible. It’s difficult to go back on the price once you make a huge announcement, after all.
              And yes, lower than $400 is probably not going to happen. That’s still a bit steep for “only” a peripheral honestly, but that’s to be expected for new technology I suppose.
              I’m considering giving the PS VR a chance if I see some more good games I’m interested in that support it, though the price is certainly going to have the biggest influence on my decision. But things the Ace Combat 7 compatibility seem really neat, and Gran Turismo would be pretty cool too. Not sure if it’s 400€-cool though, lmao. Plus, I don’t know if it would even work for me to begin with, as I’m wearing glasses, hah. Just gotta wait and see, I guess! But anyway, getting a little side-tracked, I suppose. :p

              I don’t blame you for not having heard about the Vive though, HTC kinda doesn’t seem to be as, let’s say, “aggressive” with their marketing as Sony and the OR people so far. Well, not only marketing, but they don’t seem to be talking too much about it in general. That, or we’re just looking at the wrong places, haha. But yea, they’re there.
              All I know about it is that it supposedly has good hardware and that it’s the product of the collaboration between HTC and Valve.

  12. I understand you want to make your own product look better, but
    1) You’re charging $600 for a piece of tech which requires upgrades for many other systems on the side
    2) You’re blaming a nearly unknown console for its impact on a market which didn’t exist at the time
    3) The Virtual Boy wasn’t VR, and
    4) If you’re actually comparing your Rift to the Virtual Boy I can’t say my hopes for your product are growing exponentially.

  13. so, a decade old console that had no market is the scapegoat for an optional piece of hardware that has a SKY HIGH PRICE??

    Sure, if stores are blaming the Wii U for the low console sales, sure they will blame them again for something that had no impact on market AGES AGO

  14. There is no industry yet, people are right in that. The way that it affected VR is that people saw the Virtual Boy fail, so it gave the idea of virtual reality a bad look; as if virtual reality was not plausible. That’s why only now, over a decade later, is anyone trying to make a successful VR headset. Had it succeeded, or never even existed to begin with, we probably would have had commercial VR sets years ago.

      1. Well those 3D effects, like the ones in the movies which I’m assuming are the ones you’re referring to, didn’t require much financial investment by consumers. They get a pair at the movies and don’t work as well as they’d though, oh well, a few bucks wasted. Then someone goes out and buys an expensive Virtual Boy, not only does it not function properly, but it fails to be supported by game makers. Other companies see this and think, why bother with VR? It’s not an attack against Nintendo, it’s just the way people see the situation.

  15. Jaded Ridley X3 {I'm not whining, you suckers... *cough* ..poor souls! I've just been driven insane by Nintendo failing me one too many times this gen!}

    Til VR is as cheap as a Nintendo Wii U or a PS4, it’s only real usage right now is medical, military, & law enforcement because those are the only things that could actually afford to pay for the outrageous prices VR is going for right now.

      1. Jaded Ridley X3 {I'm not whining, you suckers... *cough* ..poor souls! I've just been driven insane by Nintendo failing me one too many times this gen!}

        Either you are an idiotic fool to spend over 600 bucks for VR for only a few games or you got a lot of money to burn. But I consider us friends so I’ll go with the latter.

        1. I know. But there’s this one game I have that I really want to test it out on. I don’t have the money now and it will be some time before I do. Not sure if the price will go down by then. But there’s a few more games I want that support it. I just really want to see what it looks like is all.

          1. Jaded Ridley X3 {I'm not whining, you suckers... *cough* ..poor souls! I've just been driven insane by Nintendo failing me one too many times this gen!}

            Good luck then. And I hope you end up enjoying it. Otherwise, that will be bad.

          2. Jaded Ridley X3 {I'm not whining, you suckers... *cough* ..poor souls! I've just been driven insane by Nintendo failing me one too many times this gen!}

            Don’t want you experiencing a Wii U, after all. ESPECIALLY at that asking price.

  16. No. It’s failed because VR back then wasn’t ready. Now Oculus will fail just the very exact same way as PS3 almost did when it’s launching at ridiculous $600 pricing. For that fucking gimmick of an overgrown Google Glass, hell no. I rather pay $600 for an Alienware console. I rather pay $600 on bills. I rather fucking donate $600 to charity over this shit.

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