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Miyamoto speaks to the state of Nintendo's VR efforts

Miyamoto speaks to the state of Nintendo's VR efforts

July 5, 2016 | By Alex Wawro

"At this year's E3, I was on the show floor, and it did not feel like VR was that big of a topic."

- Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto ruminates on virtual reality in the game industry.

Late last month Nintendo hosted its annual shareholders meeting, and a recently-published English version of the transcribed Q&A portion sheds light the company's plans for the future.

Virtual- and augmented-reality technology is part of that future, according to Nintendo director and longtime game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, but there seems to be concern at the company about whether games meant to be played for long periods will work well in VR.

"For VR in particular, we are continuing our research, and looking into development with a mind to how our current core products are meant to be played for a relatively long period of time," Miyamoto said in response to an investor's question. "We are looking into the possibilities of providing an experience that gives value when played for a short time, and how to eliminate the concerns of long-duration use."

Here Miyamoto is echoing comments made by PlayStation chief Andrew House last month, when he responded to a similar question at Sony's own investors meeting in Japan by opining that "this generation of VR lends itself more to short-form content, than perhaps it does to long-form experiences."

House went on to point out that VR experiences might be better compared to theme park rides than traditional video games, and that such a comparison was not a slight on the medium.

From a developer's perspective, it's interesting to see top figures at two major game companies speaking to the challenges of adapting traditional game development practices to account for the strengths -- and limitations -- of VR/AR tech. 

At E3 last month it was clear that a number of other game companies are struggling to adapt their long-running game franchises to VR, leading to a rash of VR game demos with nauseating design issues. For his part, Miyamoto told investors that while he was on the show floor at E3 this year he didn't think VR was "that big of a topic."

"This could be because VR is not that much to look at for the spectator, even while it might be highly appreciated for the person actually experiencing it," continued Miyamoto. "It might also not be clear how the experience can be made into a product."

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