Nintendo unveils cardboard VR headset for Switch

Nintendo Co.’s Switch hybrid is making its first foray into virtual reality games.

The Nintendo Labo VR Kit lets gamers build a headset mostly out of cardboard so that they can slide in the device to create what the company calls “basic VR technology.” It’s reminiscent of Google’s Cardboard, which turns smartphones into VR goggles and was introduced almost five years ago. Priced at $80, Nintendo’s VR kit includes an alien shooting title and an ocean swimming simulation. It goes on sale April 12.

“We wanted to design an experience that encourages both virtual and real-world interactions among players,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s chief, said in a statement Thursday.

Nintendo’s VR headset doesn’t require a strap-on to stay affixed. Instead, users hold it up to their eyes with one hand and control games with the other. That suggests a focus on more casual, shorter experiences and a device that’s meant to be easily shared among a group. Spending on VR and augmented reality will grow 69 percent this year to $20.4 billion, with hardware accounting for half of that, according to IDC.

The new product is Nintendo’s first move into VR in more than two decades, after the 1995 Virtual Boy flopped with consumers. With the Switch entering its third year, Nintendo is facing increasing pressure to boost the device’s appeal beyond its core user base of loyal gamers.

The shares of Nintendo were down 1 percent in early trading in Tokyo, erasing some losses after the announcement.

Now read: Nintendo unveils new games to boost Switch sales

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Nintendo unveils cardboard VR headset for Switch