The year was 1995. Nintendo had just released “Virtual Boy”, a VR device that seemed ahead of its time. Nintendo VR was born. Seven months later however the project was dead. Nintendo had achieved one of the biggest failures in the history of the company. Fast forward twenty-one years later to the present day and the the industry has been a buzz about virtual reality and how its the next big thing in the video game industry. PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive all are setting the world on fire at GDC 16 this week.
The company has been primarily focused on the success of the Amiibo, the 3DS, and Pokemon. And rightfully so, those big three items have generated high revenue for the company. However, what does the company have planned for the future aside from games, and the development of the Nintendo NX?
As we stand on the doorsteps of E3 just a few months away, Nintendo has stated that they are indeed “looking into VR” during their latest earnings call. But is that enough to convince the shareholders and the public on their future? Nintendo VR has already been a failure by virtue of the Virtual Boy, and the company would be hard pressed to say they are in the position for another let down. Especially on a product they previously failed at executing successfully from a marketing and consumer standpoint.
So what do they do from here? Well, in a business like this, chances have to be taken. Nintendo took a chance when the Wii console was released. Its odd naming convention, controller, and motion were all huge chances. But the chances paid dividends as the console became the most successful in the company’s history. But as we stand now, the Wii U isn’t nearly as successful as the Wii, and some people are losing their patience. Will the NX yield to a Nintendo VR device of sorts? Time will tell. But one thing is certain – the Virtual Boy’s failure hasn’t been forgotten and the Wii U is losing momentum. Nintendo needs to become successful in the VR market as three aggressive choices have already claimed a stake in the industry for consumer attention. And from the latest buzz from GDC, they are all quite impressive. Nintendo may be looking into the world of VR but one thing is clear when it comes to Nintendo and the world of virtual reality – failure cannot be an option.