Reggie Fils-Aimé (who managed Nintendo of America before Bowser took over) isn’t a fan of the corporation formerly known as Facebook or its concept of the metaverse. During an interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang at South by Southwest over the weekend, he fired a few fireballs at Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that Meta isn’t unique and that it buys or copies almost all of its interesting ideas.
During his interview, Fils-Amié defines the metaverse as « a digital place where you interact with your friends in a social and gaming sort of setting, » just so we’re all on the same page when discussing this topic. (If you want to go deeper, you can read our excellent explanation of the concept here.) In general, Fils-Amié doesn’t appear to be too negative about it, citing Roblox as an example of something where aspects of the metaverse already exist.
But when it comes to the idea that Mark Zuckerberg is trying to sell us all, he’s not sold. « I’m not a fan of the concept. » I don’t believe their current definition will be successful. I say this because, first and foremost… and I’m not sure whether someone from Facebook is here, but you have to admit that Facebook is not an inventive organization. They aren’t. »
After the crowd had finished praising Fils-Amié for his dunk — yeah, really — he went on to add that Meta had « either acquired incredibly intriguing things, like Oculus, or they’ve been a rapid follower of other people’s ideas. » (He does credit the company with « creating the very original social platform many years ago, » but who wants to be renowned for that these days?) Returning to the company’s intentions for the metaverse, he said, « That’s why I look at the vision that’s been stated so far, and I’m not a believer. »
When Chang asked if he thought people would spend an entire day in a virtual reality headgear created by anyone other than Meta, he responded no. He stated that despite having tested « just about every VR device and just about every VR experience, » he does not believe « VR » is ready for prime time. That doesn’t mean it won’t get there, but I don’t think it’ll be an experience you spend 100% of your time on, or even 100% of your entertainment time on. »
Instead, he sees people adopting augmented reality throughout the day to interact with their digital worlds and relationships while remaining physically present — possibly similar to the enormously successful Pokémon Go, which he highlights as a great example of AR during the interview.
Part of Fils-skepticism Amié’s about VR stems from sales volume; the last he knew, the total number of VR devices sold was approximately 20 million. He then proceeded to flex on the VR business, claiming that under his control, that would have been a good single year of hardware sales at Nintendo. (Ouch.)
So, how does Fils-Amié envision the future? Apparently, it’s like Fortnite, but with additional AR aspects. « I believe that the types of experiences will continue to innovate and be fresh and diverse. » I’ll use Fortnite as an example. We take this type of battle royale experience for granted despite the fact that it has only been available for four years. That didn’t exist four years ago. » He believes that in the next four years, we will witness new, « very fascinating » game experiences, as well as a greater melding of the real and digital worlds – he simply doesn’t believe that digital world will come from Meta.