3. – Throwback Thursday: Sega VR
Back in the early 90s, Sega attempted to get into VR in a very similar way in which Sony has done with the PSVR – building peripheral Virtual Reality hardware for its most popular console.
But things did not go well for the gaming giant. The Sega Genesis VR headset was a gigantic flop that never even got a proper release. So what went so terribly wrong?
In 1991 Sega began development on a home VR headset, the Virtua VR, which was later rebranded as Sega VR. The company introduced the headset - with its rather sleek (in a retro sort of way) wrap-around-glasses design - at the 1993 Consumer Electronics Show with an announced target price of $200. It got broadly covered in the press and became one of the most eagerly anticipated holiday product releases of the year.
Yet when it came to testing the device in action, there were severe problems with it causing widespread motion sickness, something that the VR industry has been working hard to address even to this day. In the end, it seems to have been a classic case of PR panic that caused the company to simply cut its losses and pull the plug on the release of the Sega VR. Some of the technology developed was eventually repurposed onto the company’s arcade machines, but it certainly steered clear of the consumer VR market since.
Given that this all happened 26 years ago (don’t know about you, but as someone who can still clearly remember losing myself in those Mega Drive games, that makes me feel old) it does put into perspective just how far things have advanced over the past few years. There’s no doubt that for anybody who bothers to look into the history of VR, that it’s a slow burner with plenty of pitfalls that will trip even the mightiest companies.