The recently released Nintendo Labo VR Kit marks Nintendo’s first public foray into the modern world of virtual reality. Compared to the majority of other VR experiences out there, the Labo VR kit is quite low-tech, yet still surprisingly functional due to the tactile nature of its cardboard design. While Nintendo seems to have taken its time with releasing a VR product, it turns out there were plans in the works as far back as four years ago (2015).
According to comments from the sources of Japanese publication Nikkei, it turns out that Nintendo had plans for a VR project in the past, but Sony had already beat it to the market with the launch of the PlayStation VR for PS4. Due to PSVR being more technologically complex, Nintendo’s higher-ups reportedly shelved the VR idea for a while. Clearly, production came back into play later on as evidenced by the launch of Labo VR.
Perhaps the success of the Nintendo Switch is what convinced Nintendo’s executives to go through with the VR concept after all, simply because the Switch is a healthy platform that’s bound to generate attention. Had the original VR experience launched, it would have likely been on the Wii U, which only sold a little over 13 million units in its lifetime. In other words, that likely would have been an expensive financial disaster, on top of being potentially lambasted due to the system already being weaker than the PS4. While the Switch is clearly also not capable of providing a PSVR-like experience, at least its low-tech solution is passable due to the whole Labo concept being based on simplicity and it’s targetted at kids and families rather than “core gamers”, which ultimately makes it different than that of the PSVR and helps it to stand out despite both of these products being VR gaming experiences.