Nintendo vs. Virtual Reality

Nintendo earned its popularity over the years by its willingness to experiment with new forms of video gaming. In fact, the popularity of its latest console Switch, a home/portable console hybrid, is a great example of this strategy in action. However, it looks like Nintendo won't be doing anything with virtual reality (VR) any time soon.

This news comes as a surprise to many Nintendo fans, but recent comments made by Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime at Variety's Entertainment and Tech Summit strongly indicate that Nintendo won't be going virtual with the Switch. In his comments, Fils-Aime said that the "problem with VR is that there aren't a lot of experiences that are truly fun."

While I can understand Nintendo's reluctance to invest in VR, this news still baffles me because the company's strategies in recent years would suggest otherwise. The Nintendo 3DS has both stereoscopic gaming capabilities and augmented reality (AR) games, while the Wii, Wii U and Switch have motion controls; with such an array of VR-related technologies already being provided, it seemed like VR itself would be Nintendo's next logical step. In fact, Nintendo fan Liam Robertson tweeted in January that the company had been working on a VR headset for Switch (a tweet that has since been verified) and a Mario Kart VR game exists in Bandai Namco’s new VR Zone arcade in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

The Nintendo Switch, not switching to VR just yet.

Regardless, even if Nintendo isn't officially working on VR gaming technology, Nintendo has been unofficially appearing in fan-based VR technology: the Dolphin VR emulator. I've read about Dolphin before as a Nintendo emulator, but I only recently heard about it being VR capable. From what I can tell, Dolphin VR has been in the works since 2015 and it currently can be used to play a few GameCube and Wii games in VR on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift systems. Staff members at PC Gamer played a few Nintendo titles in VR last February and posted their thoughts on the experience here, and side-by-side (SBS) 3D videos of Nintendo games in VR have been posted on YouTube. While the examples provided by Dolphin VR are not perfect, they are proof that Nintendo will have plenty of content to port over to VR when--and if--it chooses to do so.

Then again, if Nintendo is still nervous about VR, it could test the figurative waters by releasing an official Virtual Boy emulator for Google Cardboard and other VR capable smartphones. Don't say that it can't be done, Nintendo--tech-savvy fans have already proven that it can, so you have no excuse.


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