Nintendo Researching AR/VR Without Committing To Anything


In their recent shareholder meeting the Nintendo management was asked about their plans for AR, VR and Mixed Reality technology. The answers were relatively vague. It seems that, for now, the upcoming Nintendo game console may not support AR / VR / MR technology.

Nintendo stated that they are researching the topic, but still see several hurdles that have to be overcome. They mention that the timespan someone can play in VR / AR mode is considerably shorter compared to a session on a standard TV. They also feel that parents may not like the idea of children sitting around with headsets that disconnect them from the surroundings. This is a very interesting position for the inventor of the Gameboy, which had a whole generation of children pinned to their handheld device.

Interestingly they also felt that AR / VR was not a big topic at the recent E3 show. Compared to other reports this seems to be a very personal view of the E3 show to say the least (we commented at the time that Nintendo was one of the only major developers at the show not involved with VR; see E3 Shows the Promises and Problems of VR – TA). – NH

Analyst Comment

After the announcement from Sony of plans to include a VR headset in their gaming offering, Nintendo is pulling out as the earlier adaptor of AR / VR / MR gaming platforms. If this is related to other failures from Nintendo to capitalize on an early entry (like with the Nintendo 3DS) into a new and developing market or more serious doubts regarding the viability of an AR / VR gaming system is not clear at the moment. Since the hardware has become a smaller part of the gaming industry, which is dominated by software development, it may also be possible that Nintendo feels there is not enough good gaming content available to justify a significant hardware development at this time. Anyway, for now it seems that Nintendo will not be a frontrunner when it comes to AR or VR gaming. – NH

It should also be remembered that Nintendo had a flirtation with early VR technology in the Virtual Boy, which was a headset that the firm shipped about 20 years ago. It sold quite poorly and was quickly killed when concerns about safety (some thought that the system would cause problems with childrens’ development in stereopsis) were raised. (BR)