Real & Virtual Consequences and Palmer’s Next Project


When did you learn about Sword Art Online?

Palmer Luckey:

Actually there is a connection to the Oculus Kickstarter. The week we launched the Kickstarter [in 2012] was actually the week when the third episode of SAO aired. The timing overlapped perfectly. I think that SAO made Oculus the focus of attention. At the same time Oculus might have made SAO even more popular by a small amount. Many people said that SAO seemed more realistic to them because of the existence of Oculus. Because Oculus’ existence VR didn’t feel like it was 20 or 30 years away. Many people thought that VR is going to become real in the near future.

During the Kickstarter I got hundreds of emails like: ‘Have you heard about the anime Sword Art Online?’, I still have people asking me that to this day [laughs]. I think over a thousand people have asked me about SAO so far.


It was pushed so hard that I actually watched it. I fell in love with it, Palmer what do you love about SAO?

Palmer Luckey:

[In deep thought] There are so many things I love about SAO. I think the part I liked the most was the result.


The result?

Palmer Luckey:

The setting of the VRMMORPG SAO was ‘If you die in-game you also die in the real world’. This setting became obvious right after the launch of SAO. This is a very extreme result. If a player makes the wrong decision he will have the result of his death. This is different to a normal game where you just shoot stuff, and it does not matter when you die because you can just respawn countless times.

Right after hearing the concept of SAO I was drawn to it. Even now after several years I am thinking about the concept of a game in which you have the same serious results in the real world as in the game world. It is going to cause a ‘real result’ which makes the game ‘real’. It is a game in which no mistake is allowed, you have to seriously think about everything.

Sorry, Internet. The 'Sword Art Online' VR MMO Isn't Real


I see…

Palmer Luckey:

[laughs] Do I sound like Kayaba Akihiko? [Akihiko is the villain of SAO who make the stakes life-or-death for the VR players]


Are you trying to say you want to be like him?

Palmer Luckey:

Just a little, just a tiny bit. I can understand what he was thinking. Kayaba created a game with a ‘serious result’ and wanted to see what would come of it. This is something no one has done so far in the real world.


Why are you so interested in ‘a serious result’? Do you want to know how humans will react put into such a situation?

Palmer Luckey:

That’s exactly it. In the real world everyone is making careful judgments. Because you do not want to die in a car crash you drive your car carefully. No one would drive a car in such a way in a game. But what if there were a game in which when you would make a mistake within, it would have a big gameplay impact. This factor would change the way you play the game a lot and would make it feel a lot closer to reality.

I think human beings want to live in a society that is careful. You would not want to live in a world without careful people. It would be a free but crazy world. In the movie The Matrix agent Smith says ‘The machine is trying to build the perfect world for humans.’ This Line is based on the idea that human beings need conflict and cannot obtain happiness without experiencing pain. Thus in the movie the machines create a world that continues to let humans experience pain.

I am not as insane as Smith [laughs], but I do think those words contain a bit of truth. I don’t think I want to live in a world in which humans control everything, without any serious results.

This concept of “serious results” is part of one of the projects I am working on. But I won’t talk about any details.


If such a game existed would there be anyone who would want to play it?

Palmer Luckey:

I think there would be people who would want to. Of course I don’t want to create a game in which players die in real life if they die in-game [laughs]. I think for something like this to become popular it must be something between current games and SAO.


Your next project sounds very intriguing.

Palmer Luckey:

It still is very early, so I can’t tell you any details, but it certainly will be exciting.

– – — – –

More From ‘Palmer’s Post-Oculus Interview’ Series:

This article comes from MoguraVR, the exclusive Japan regional partner of Road to VR.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Ombra Alberto

    Nice artikel.

    • Tommy

      Tu la. Palmer rocks. Met him in person before. Memang passionate diorang.

    • NooYawker

      Too smart for his supporters to get it.

  • towblerone

    Love it. Palmer is the man. Can’t wait to see what he does next.

  • Ashwin

    long live Palmer, what is this new “project” all about, really intriguing.

  • Dotcommer

    Yeah, good luck getting any new ideas off the ground with your new found notoriety. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be associated with a political troll with frighteningly right-wing beliefs.

    • JW

      There are people out there who actually don’t care what his personal opinion is and just care about his innovation to the world. What if Thomas Edison was a ‘far right’ conservative? Would you not want to use any of his innovations? Thought so.

      • Sam Kennedy

        So true, would we deny electricity or the invention of the CPU or any of the great software innovations of our time because of the inventors political views. The thought is laughable and you are far too consumed with politics if that is your rationale. I believe in diversity of thought , I think that is the most important diversity and that includes people that have right wing views that I do no believe in (or left for that matter) , not all people with different views than you are stupid or ignorant in fact some times you can learn and better yourself from listening to views you may not agree with.

        Its certainly better than living in a bubble or an echo chamber where you shut out anyone that doesn’t agree with your views, like the above poster (dotcommer) seems to believe in. I liked palmer and his unadulterated passion for VR before his political views where known and knowing his political views certainly isnt going to change that for me.

        • Nimblerichman

          Sure, why not. Long live the Nazis and Palmer Luckey!!!

      • MaruluGames

        Here is a good example of this: most of the technology used in the Apollo mission rockets is based on Nazi technology and the US recruited all the Nazi scientists in operation paperclip.

        • Get Schwifty!

          Not quite true – but the principle holds. Basic rocketry yes. There were two teams, one US and one comprised of the former Germans. Early rockets in the US were the German camp, later on virtually all the US program rockets were developed by the US team with considerable differences in systems – notably less safe than he German team. The problem was the German teams pace and designs were deemed too “safe” to meet the program goals in a meaningful time.

          • Nimblerichman

            If people weren’t so politically correct these days Palmer could have been the next Hitler.

    • polysix

      Give it a rest, you are in a MINORITY it case you hadn’t noticed. A loud, whining minority sure but a minority none the less.

      Palmer will be fine, I’ll support his future work over Suckerberg and Facebook any day! Facebook are doing far worse things to humanity than throwing a little cash at a shit-posting group (that didn’t even count in the end as Trump won anyway)

      • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

        Dotcommer definitely isn’t in the minority.

        Any product/project that Palmer gets involved with will raise questions about those that employ/back him. Not only that, his involvement with the alt-right Nimble America and his backing of Trump, including his $100,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration, will overshadow any project that he gets involved with. Just go and reread the first paragraph in the article above for an example of what I’m getting at.

        • Surykaty

          But did he get involved with the alt-right at all? HE DID NOT.. it’s fakle news you moron.. just go and do your research.. what a pretentious and lazy piece of shit you are

    • polysix

      Btw think about “frighteningly left wing beliefs” also. Pot meet kettle. Far left is the new Far right (but more dangerous to its own citizens). You sheep you.

    • NooYawker

      History has shown that business doesn’t care how big a scumbag you are as long as they think you can produce a profit for them. He has plenty of like minded supporters, he has nothing to worry about.

    • Ted Joseph

      I actually am a conservative, and like Trump’s ideas. He is at least trying something dammit! Most politicians are incompetent hacks. Didn’t Billy Clinton say North Korea would never get a nuke!? Back on topic. I love VR! Cant wait to see what the future brings!

    • Surykaty

      Frighteningly right wing?? Like freedom, personal responsibility, smaller government? We are not talking about republicans here… Palmer likes to troll the shit out of stupid liberals.. that is ok in my book!

  • Arv

    About Palmer’s anime idea. 2 words – Red Barchetta. An awesome song by the Canadian prog rock band Rush. He needs to check it out, it has a very similar story. :oD

  • polysix

    Can’t really describe how HAPPY I am that Facebook actually ‘released’ Palmer from their evil grasp. Palmer is now free to pursue pure VR in an idealistic, not traffic/data farming way as possible. Just like his original goal.

    Come on Palmer, we’re behind you man! (and that’s from an Ex Viver, DK2er, PSVRer and someone who will NEVER buy a Facebook HMD so no rift for me).

  • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

    “I think we should change the subject.”

    They should’ve pushed him to answer questions about the alt-right, Milo and his love for Trump. You know, relevant questions not fanboy questions.

    • Surykaty


      He’s a right winger just like I am… he obviously likes to make fun of crazy liberals and SJWs like I do… he’s an enterpreneur and tinkerer at heart.. and that requires freedom which is something that the left hates. I am from an ex-communist country and I saw how the whole equality mantra turned the country into a blood-lust, envy, corruption shithole.. I don’t need any lectures on that.

      The alt-right connection is bullcrap as he never connected himself with any of the larping nazi stuff that comes from some of the extreme dark corners of the interwebz. And Milo? The black skin loving homosexual tech writer and pretty much comedian who said it sometimes should be ok that very young gays look for relationships and protection with older gays (pederasty)? I don’t find that topic much controversial.

      Palmer just needs to take a rest before the SJW liberal movement implodes and he can get back into the limelight.

  • Ted Joseph

    Because of this man I get to enjoy Arizona Sunshine, Wilsons Heart, Robo Recall, VR Sports, VR Pool Nation, etc. I am absolutely HOOKED on VR!!! Thank you Palmer!

  • Graham J ⭐️

    First question has extra “from” in it.