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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Virtual Boy Nintendo History # 5

This is article is about the first 3D Nintendo handheld. Not the Nintendo 3DS. The Virtual Boy. The system is also known as the only Nintendo system to fail. This is surrounded by a history of systems by Nintendo that always turned a profit at the very least.

The story of the Virtual Boy begins with Gunpei Yokoi. At the time of the Virtual Boy, Yokoi was the general manager of Nintendo's Research & Development 1 division. During this period Nintendo allowed some of the divisions (including R&D1) to experiment with new ideas for products. Nintendo reportedly wanted focus to be brought to the Nintendo 64 and pre-maturely released the Virtual Boy. Yokoi supposedly did not feel it was ready for retail. Nintendo attempted to make the console with the cheapest options. The reason for the red color was due to red being the cheapest color for LEDs. Color displays supposedly would have caused quality issues. The price of the Virtual Boy was $180 despite these cost saving measures. This was lower then home consoles but considerably more costly then Nintendo's previous handheld, The Nintendo Game Boy. The system was never intended to replace the Nintendo Game Boy. This was in part due to the system not being very mobile as you need a flat surface for it to rest on.

Nintendo spent $25 million on early promotional activities. Nintendo expected to sell 3 million systems within a year. The system had a huge push from Blockbuster to allow the system to be rented for $10 at the time to try the system out which lead to 750,000 rentals of the system. Only 770,000 units were sold before Nintendo discontinued the product without even a press release. The system did not even last one whole year.

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