Nintendo Says There Isn’t A Lot Of VR That’s ‘Truly Fun’

by Jamie Feltham • September 11th, 2017

Nintendo’s tangled VR story continues to grow all the more complex this week.

Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America President and COO, recently spoke about the technology at Variety’s Entertainment and Tech Summit but, sadly, he didn’t have much good to say on the subject. Talking about the possibility of VR coming to the company’s latest product, the Nintendo Switch, Fils-Aime said that the “problem with VR is that there aren’t a lot of experiences that are truly fun.” He added that the company has no plans to experiment with VR for now, though it may happen in the future.

Fils-Aime was, however, much more positive about the future of AR, which Nintendo has been experimenting with since the days of the 3DS. Pokemon GO, a product of Nintendo subsidiary The Pokemon Company, has also been hugely successful on smartphones.

We’ve been following Nintendo’s love-hate relationship with VR for some time now on UploadVR. The company’s statements about the tech have sometimes conflicted, saying it’s working on VR in some way whilst also pointing to issues with isolation. Despite this, a patent for a VR headset supported by the Switch surfaced earlier this year, suggesting the device could perhaps get an add-on peripheral integrating VR later down the line. That said, with the 720p display, we’d need to see some major revisions if it was to offer a smooth experience.

A few months back we also saw Nintendo jump into the world of VR arcades with a VR edition of its ever-popular Mario Kart series on display at an arcade in Tokyo. It offers just a taste of what Nintendo could bring to the platform.

Do you agree with Fils-Aime’s comments about VR? Or do you think Nintendo should be the ones to make truly fun VR experiences?

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  • Filmgeek47

    I’m a long time Nintendo fan, but it seems clear to me that their issue with VR is that it works against their longtime hardware strategy. They’ve gotten away with having underpowered hardware they can sell at the same price as competitors for some time now. No way the switch can do 90hz at native rez on a VR screen when the PlayStation pro can barely manage it. Simply put, they’re not ready for VR, so their PR strategy is to badmouth it and hope it doesn’t catch on. Pretty unfortunate.

    • Nightfiree

      I wouldnt say barley. I just dived into RIGS on the PRO since its free. I had played rigs on the ps4 before i traded it in but never played it on the PRO. Next to the Alien: Isolation VR mod for PC its probubly one of the best looking VR games i have played. Minimal lag with excellent rendering at a distance. Still salty they closed down the dev company in charge. You can push some truly impressive stuff through the PRO you just need SONY money to optimize it 😛

      Side note i find it really odd he says theres no fun experiences when mario kart VR is killing it and looks like nothing but an absolute blast.

    • daveinpublic

      Well said

    • drd7of14

      PSVR has a maximum of 120 Hz…And the majority of games are at 90 Hz.

      Not sure where this “PlayStation pro can barely manage it”. The PS4 standard manages the high refresh rate just fine.

      • Filmgeek47

        Not trying to start a console war here 🙂 I haven’t tried PSVR, only read about it. I’m sure it’s got some great experiences, but what I meant was coming more from the raw power of the system compared to a well speced gaming PC. Most VR games for console require pretty heavy optimization. Hell, I’m playing most of my vr on a gtx 1080 ti, and there’s still plenty of games (Elite Dangerous, cough cough) that strain my system pretty badly. As a rough measurement, if you look at the TFLOPS of playstation pro VS high end PC graphics cards it’s a pretty big leap. Then compare the playstation to the Nintendo switch, and it’s pretty laughable to think that the switch would be capable of vr. love it for what it is though.

        • drd7of14

          I here ya. Specs-wise, the PSVR has no right to be as good as it is. No way it’s up the snuff compared to PC hardware or Vive/Rift, but it is impressive what the PS4/PSVR are capable of handling. They have a lot of great experiences, but I don’t think we’ve hit the “AAA super-awesome gotta have it” game quite yet on VR. But we’ll get there.

          I think they just optimize PSVR for PS4/Pro pretty decently, cause I can only think of 1 or 2 cheap and poorly rated games that I got with major issues. The high quality games, farpoint, RIGS, Battlezone, Resident Evil 7, Star Trek: Bridge Crew VR, Wearwolves Within, Wayward Sky, How We Soar, Superhot VR…These games all run great!

          They shouldn’t run as well as they do given the specs, but they pump out a lot good. The real question is how Skyrim will hold up…Not well, I’d imagine, given Bethesda’s track record on performance. Still, it’s Skyrim. 😀

          I don’t think the Switch is capable of this type of performance though, as you mentioned…PS4 was designed with VR in mind. The Switch was not, and although it’s powerful for its size and everything, it’s not up to the minimum specs for consistent fps and performance…I think they’re good with what they’re doing for now. Maybe next-gen for them, but we’ll see.

          • NooYawker

            There’s always an advantage when developers know exactly what hardware they’re programming for and optimize performance.

        • Good points.
          PSVR, while yes… it’s true that it’s not *as high of definition* as PCVR, it’s certainly not bad at all. Anyone who tells you differently hasn’t experienced it to know for themselves. Everyone that’s played mine has loved it.

          Here’s the thing… VR needs refresh speed to keep down dizziness and headaches, but resolution is not part of the requirements to achieve that. While PCVR looks better, and is no doubt technically superior, that’s not to say that VR can’t be done at any lesser degree… otherwise why would all of these other manufacturers be piling billions into making these products come to market? Nintendo *could* do VR, and it would sell just fine –but, like PSVR, it would be lower spec’d than PCVR (by far in their case, but still quite useful). It mainly comes down to the fact that Nintendo doesn’t utilize complex geometry to an intense degree like PS4, XBX or PC –which are the reason for such high requirements for VR on those platforms because they all attempt to push VR at the max specs of the systems, respectively –and so far, both PCVR and PSVR are doing double rendering (monitor *&* HMD), so that doubles the requirements for framebuffer, which is one of the higher-strain functions on any GPU. This is also part of why newer Android based VR is doing better with less resources is because it’s only doing single rendering, and using a lower geometry complexity, so the system requirements are much lower to achieve decent performance –and those systems are coming along amazingly since I had last checked one out prior to last night.

          Anyway, I think if Nintendo decides to make it happen, then they will. The only thing holding them back is themselves.

          • John Miller

            The specs on the switch are better than most phones and they do decent VR. Most people arent playing graphic intense games on VR. Just like the internet they are prob looking at cat videos

      • Mine does just fine –I can attest. I’ve been very happy with my PSVR so far. While I want to get a PCVR system asap, it’s not killing me to play my PSVR while I raise the funds. Just about every game I’ve played on it has been a blast, with no performance issues to speak of, and this is on an original PS4 with a 4TB drive upgrade (10K-rpm/64MB-buffer) that absolutely screams on load time (though, the stock drive kinda sucked at 5400 rpm / 1MB buffer).

        Nintendo’s problem is much what Filmgeek47 alluded to –but I’d add that the elders at Nintendo (particularly Miyamoto) are a lot of what has held Nintendo locked into this pattern of using less-capable hardware and focusing first and foremost on ‘fun games’ (which really reads as ‘kid friendly’ games). With all due respect for Miyamoto’s legacy, I think it’s not only time that he retire, but that Nintendo retires from his line of thinking where hardware engineering is concerned. They don’t necessarily have to try to compete direct with Sony & Microsoft at the same level… it’s nice to see someone who looks at gaming differently, but to ignore trends and often go the opposite way just because of some stubborn old insiders is going to cost them dearly in the long run… and in many ways already has.

      • Mane Vr

        ok wrong most games on the psvr is using reprojection to fill in frame drops most games on psvr r not running at 90 most r at 60 reprojected to 120fps and 45 reprojected to 90fps the screen itself is a 120hz screen upgrading to the ps pro gives your stable frame rates without the reprojection. own the less intense games are at 90hz. with that said it’s is by far very impressive what sony is able to do with the standard ps4 but the smart thing to do is get a pro if your want the best psvr

        • drd7of14

          I never mentioned the FPS, I was referring to the headset refresh at 120Hz. That is the case on most games, despite the rotational reprojection for the headset.

          And yeah, we can all agree the tech is impressive. Using the Vive though, you can definitely notice the differences with the addition of native 90/120 FPS for VR.

          I’ll say that PSVR tends to handle itself better when it comes to framedrops in my experience, though again…I can only speak for myself. The clarity and tracking of the Vive tends to give it the edge

          • Mane Vr

            FPS = HZ and yes thanks to being a close systems devs write the game with the fact the system will be using reprojection is a big deal for the system. I was just saying you’ll get a better feeling game if played on the ps4 pro because it can render those games at the needed 90hz

          • drd7of14

            FPS Does not Equal Hz.

            A Monitor/TV/Display refresh rate does not suddenly change because the software/app cannot hit the FPS to match. The PSVR unit display handles 90/120 Hz, and crosses the visual rate with reprojection against the games themselves, whether they are hitting 60/90/120 fps.

            While there is a limit to what the display cycles can refresh, and FPS is important in Hz as a bottleneck, they are NOT the same thing. If Hz, then FPS; not If FPS, then Hz. The distinction matters.

            Most of the improvements from the PS4 Pro for VR are for minor stabilization, but moreso for improved visuals. Battlezone VR elaborated more than most on the specific changes, though they are not alone in this of course. I just specifically remember their notice on lighting effects/reflections, shadows, smoother textures, and slightly improved edges.

          • Mane Vr

            Smh… ok hz is how many frames a tv, monitor, or hmd can do in a second so the psvr can handle 120 fps max. And so yes hz = fps. As for the ps4 pro devs r allowed to choose what they want to use the power for most was to get 90fps cause that it’s gives a smoothier gameplay. Farpoint use it for super sampling with 60hz reprojected to 120hz. Look i give psvr credit but very few of it’s game is a 90hz game let alone a 120hz game which is not a bad thing sony reproject tech is really good

  • Graham

    What a totally ridiculous thing to say. “We’re not doing VR so it’s rubbish but we are doing AR and that’s really great everyone so buy our stuff.” Geez, I’m really convinced. Goodbye Nintendo, you’re going to end up miles behind.

  • Alexandre Lamarre

    I don’t know if he is being truthful in his statement about what Nintendo’s plans are for VR in the future, but he is right that there isn’t enough “truly fun” VR content out there. Unfortunately, Nintendo is probably the most likely company to come up with fun uses for the technology.

    • Filmgeek47

      Not enough? perhaps. But there’s quite a bit. If you look at Lone Echo, Elite Dangerous, Star Trek Bridge Crew, The Gallery, Hover Junkers… there’s a long list of experiences I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in VR, and the reality is that VR is so early in its life cycle. We’re just getting to the point now where devs have had long enough to actually make AAA quality titles. The unfortunate thing with VR is that it looks like there’s nothing good out there, because there’s an overload of mediocre games on steam that were shoved out by people trying to capitalize on the trend. Obviously we all have different taste, but IMHO there’s a lot of great content already.

  • Mane Vr

    He isn’t wrong about 95% of vr games sucks in fact i can’t think of one that i want to keep going back to… i will be off playing destiny 2 till more games come to vr

    • polysix

      sports bar VR cannot be replaced by traditional gaming. it’s like crack.

      • Justos

        social VR in general cant be beaten by traditional gaming. Its just so immersive having other people playing with you in VR

        • Mane Vr

          Socailly i agree but most vr games feels limiting to me. Games like serious sam vr tfe and gunheart has show promise but devs seem more focus on the novelity of vr than making a good game. People send more time on “o this is cool” then what going on in thw game itself. I find myself bored with most vr games with-in an hour or so

  • daveinpublic

    There’s not a ton of fun VR content out there, but it’s because companies like Nintendo aren’t making games for it.

    • drd7of14

      It’s been 1 1/2 years since VR officially came out. No console within 1 1/2 years has ever had a ton of fun games in general within that range of time. It needs another 1 1/2 years for it to really start to kick off. We’ve had some great games, but many publishers/developers didn’t want to risk their time/money for little gain. Now that they’ve seen a decent amount of sales, and they’re getting a chance at experimenting with the tech, I expect will start to see more games using and abusing VR.

      AAA is still experimenting, but we do have some pretty sweet titles thanks to Ubisoft, and all these upstarted developers working on games like Superhot. And SONY could be doing more for its platforms games, but again…I think it just takes time, and they still want to satisfy regular PS4 users. Dreams will most likely be getting PSVR support come this…Well, whenever it comes out.

  • Mucker2002

    I could say the same about the releases on Nintendo hardware over the last couple of generations.

  • NooYawker

    Anyone who disses VR simply doesn’t have VR in development. If he believes what he’s saying then he should fired. It’s like ballmer laughing at the iPhone. VR/AR is the future.

  • Rick

    They sell no VR, so why would they say VR is amazing?

  • dan bryant

    There isn’t enough quality vr games out there that’s true

    But If you’re a sim racer VR is an absolute must!

  • laast

    Nintendo are stupid and arrogant trolls. They know how to make games, but their hardware is laughable and cheap and that’s how they make profit: sell their games forcing people to buy their silly hardware.

    VR can’t be cheap (at least today), that’s why Nintendo can’t make profit with VR, and why they are trying to fool their fans about VR awesomeness.

  • Chris7

    It’s cause his VIRTUAL BOY SUCKS… if I was him I’d just keep my mouth shut about VR if I diddnt have anything nice to say about it. PATHETIC

  • Engineer_92

    This guy is an absolute joke. Apparently the last VR system he’s even used is the virtual boy. I’m pretty sure Nintendo is gonna get left in the dust because this guy is stuck in the Stone Age.

  • Nate

    Hey Reggie – you should worry more about beefing up your lineup of games for the Switch than worrying about the problems with VR.

    Just worry about supporting the Switch with some more AAA games besides Zelda and Mario. I’m loving my Switch by the way. 🙂