The Nintendo Switch was released on March 3rd as a seemingly complete console, but what if it is just a stepping stone for Nintendo to dominate a certain gaming market that can be used in everyday life.
Virtual Reality (VR) gaming systems are nothing new to Nintendo, who were actually the first company to release a VR gaming console, the Virtual Boy (pictured below), back in 1995. Since the innovation was way before its time, the Virtual Boy ended up being a monumental failure due to the lack of the appropriate technology back then, but are they going to give VR another shot?
Although Nintendo have not officially announced their venture into the virtual world, there is other evidence which suggests they plan on doing so in the near future. Nintendo has recently applied for patents on a device similar to the Samsung Gear VR, which allows you to use their phone (or the Switch in Nintendo’s case) as the screen. The cost of the Switch is also quite a bit less than the competition, only $300, so they are definitely able to remain competitive in the market. The President of Nintendo, Tatsumi Kimishima, has also made a statement saying that Nintendo is interested in exploring the possibilities of VR:
If we are able to resolve the issue with playing [VR] comfortably for long hours, we will support it in one form or another.
By “in one form or another,” Kimishima-sama may be referring to Augmented Reality (AR) instead of VR. Unlike VR, which immerses you in a completely different world, AR adds virtual elements into the real world to interact with, as seen in Pokémon Go and Chelsea Kicker app. The evidence that they are working towards using the Switch as an AR console are petty strong, especially when considering the one AR game they released so far, Pokémon GO, made the company over $300 million in just a few months’ time and they have already added the features to some of their other hardware, such as the 3DS.
So what does this mean for the future of gaming? While other companies are content with gamers staying at home, trapped in a virtual environment, Nintendo is developing technology to encourage people to get out and explore. Because of this freedom, augmented reality may play a factor in other areas of life too, especially if they support third party content creation.
Imagine wearing a pair of glasses when watching a football match which allow you to track player movements and show player stats without taking your eyes away from the action. Although this may seem like a longshot, Panasonic are already using AR projections on suite windows in football stadiums, so it is only a matter of time until the technology is available in a more compact form.
Augmented reality is not exclusively used by people watching a sport, and also has already been used by athletes. German startup Fun With Balls GmbH has already released an augmented reality device that can be used on squash courts for a more engaging and fun experience for both amateurs and professionals alike.
So will Nintendo compete with the likes of Google, Apple, and Samsung to dominate the VR market, or will they become the company which revolutionises Augmented Reality and bridge the gap between videogames and sports?
University Student studying International Business at Richmond, The American International University in London and Intern at WePlay Digital Sports Agency.