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Palmer Luckey: Virtual Boy 'hurt' the VR industry

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Kicking Nintendo's failure while it's down

In his second Ask Me Anything session of late, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey shared his thoughts on another virtual reality device — Nintendo's Virtual Boy. Except, according to Luckey, the public failure of a handheld was no virtual reality system at all.

Responding to a commenter asking for his take on the platform, which was discontinued just a year after its 1995 launch, Luckey explained why the Virtual Boy doesn't qualify as true VR.

It offered "[no] head tracking, low field of view, [and was] essentially a monochrome 3DTV," he wrote. He then continued on to say that the console's failure was a "real shame, too, because the association of the Virtual Boy with VR hurt the industry in the long run."

While the virtual reality market has experienced a revived interest, thanks to the work of Oculus and its competitors, the Virtual Boy remains a notable stain on Nintendo's track record. Among other titles, it was named by Time as one of the worst inventions ever.

Luckey did pay one compliment to Nintendo's eternally picked upon console, however. "It did have the first LED display in a consumer device, though — probably the best contrast of any display up to that point!"

Pre-orders for the highly anticipated Oculus Rift opened last Wednesday, although if you haven't already put down your $599 for the system, don't expect to receive it anytime before June.

On the Nintendo front, it seems unlikely that the company is looking to compete with Oculus in the near future with another virtual reality device of its own. At E3 2015 in June, Nintendo of America's president Reggie Fils-Aime told us what would be required of the technology in its current state in order for Nintendo to reconsider it.

"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," he said, before adding that "based on what I've seen to date, it's not fun, and it's not social. It's just tech."


Palmer Luckey joined The Verge at CES 2016 to talk about the future of virtual reality