The "Virtual Pool" franchise is a series of 3D, first-person sports simulation video games featuring computer simulations of various cue sports (billiards games), including several kinds of pool as well as (in later releases) snooker and carom billiards. The games were produced, by developer Celeris and publisher Interplay Entertainment, originally for the PC (Windows 95/98/XP), Mac (OS 9), Nintendo 64 and PlayStation. Not all games were released for all platforms (see individual game articles for details). The original Virtual Pool was re-released in 2009 for iPod Touch and iPhone.
The principal selling point of the "Virtual Pool" series games is that they were designed and tested not only by programmers, but also by physicists and professional players. By the release of Virtual Pool 3, the simulation was so accurate that the game prominently boasts "Guaranteed to improve your actual pool play or your money back" on the front of the box. The series garnered pool industry endorsements, including professional players Mike Sigel and Jeanette "the Black Widow" Lee, and equipment manufacturers like Viking Cues, Imperial International, Schön Custom Cues, Creative Innovations, and Joss Cues.
The graphics capabilities vary from game to game and platform to platform, but overall the 3D realism of the various simulated environments (pool halls, etc.) is on par with the graphics in other rendered games (first-person shooters, etc.) of each game's time period. The games' use of that perspective, to shoot balls instead of bullets, rather than falling back on a typical but unrealistic overhead view from the ceiling, contributed strongly to the success of the series.
The complexity of the games increased over time, from Virtual Pool' straightforward offering of four different game types, to Virtual Pool 3's smorgasbord of snooker, 2 different carom games and 18 pool games, including 4 different variants of eight-ball. Other gradual improvements include more venues, more computerized opponents, equipment upgrade purchases, ability to customize tables (pocket width, etc.), multiplayer and network gaming, video tutorials by top pros Sigel and Lee, and ultimately the ability to earn the privilege of playing a virtual, almost unbeatable Jeanette Lee.