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Nintendo Still Doesn't Think VR Has Mainstream Appeal

Good news has arrived for video game fans who like their Nintendo experiences to be strictly old-school: in a new interview from French publication Les Numériques, Nintendo France's Philippe Lavoué has doubled-down on the company's stance that virtual reality systems won't be the way of the future — that they're not even appealing now, in fact.

"If you look at VR headsets," Lavoué said, "I doubt they can appeal to the mainstream. Consumers are not patient with entertainment if you’re not able to deliver an all-inclusive package."

One would guess this "all-inclusive package" might be referring to something like a self-contained VR system — like, say, Lenovo's new Mirage Solo headset, which packs together all the necessary VR requirements into what's called a standalone unit.

Aside from obvious standalone systems, maybe Lavoué was referring to the complexity of full-octane VR systems like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. They're not exactly user friendly, at least not from a non-technical perspective, so we'll give him that. But what about a much more commonplace technology like 4K displays? Surely a company as big as Nintendo can see the value in that.

"As far as 4K is concerned," Lavoué queried, "is it useful to invest in a technology that has not been adopted by the majority? Where are 4K TVs now? Is it a good idea to invest in a technology before consumers do? We can’t invest in everything. And what novelty would we bring compared to our competitors?"

This statement is a bit odd, because as a gaming system, the Nintendo Switch is sort of a novelty. It just happens to be a very good novelty, one that does more than you might expect and better than you might have expected. Clearly the fans are into it, as the Switch has recently become the fastest-selling home console in US history. So maybe 4K isn't the future for the Switch; that's totally fine. It's few that would call it a novelty, though, as 4K certainly seems to be the future for many big-name monitor and television manufacturers, to say nothing of rivals Sony and Microsoft, who have just recently unveiled their more powerful 4K-based systems.

Doing What Nintendo Does Best

Maybe VR and 4K aren't going to be our main focuses in gaming come two, five, or even ten years from now. Maybe Nintendo will be right, and consumers are becoming fixated on technologies that will ultimately amount to nothing, or technologies that fade into obscurity after something bigger and better comes along. Nintendo has always done its own thing, and for the most part, that strategy seems to be working out well.

Despite opinions about VR and 4K, it seems Lavoué understands this sort of alternative appeal that Nintendo products carry, saying that, "if we do the exact same thing than [sic] everyone else, we’re bound to die." For Nintendo, then, avoiding the mainstream might be the secret to success.

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