Reggie Fils-Aimé (who ran Nintendo of America before Bowser took over) isn’t impressed with the company formerly known as Facebook, or its idea of the metaverse. He threw some fireballs at Mark Zuckerberg during an interview with… BloombergEmily Chang at South by Southwest last weekend, saying that Meta is not innovative and has bought or copied almost all of his interesting ideas.
Since we are all on the same page when discussing this concept, Fils-Amié defines the metaverse as “a digital space where you communicate with your friends in a social and game-like environment” during his interview. (You can also read our great explanation of the idea here if you want to dig deeper.) Overall, Fils-Amié doesn’t seem very down about it — he says Roblox is an example of something where elements of the metaverse already exist.
But when it comes to the idea that Mark Zuckerberg is trying to sell us all on, he’s not convinced. “I am not a buyer of that idea. I don’t think their current definition will be successful. I say that because, first of all… and I don’t know if anyone from Facebook is here, but you have to admit that Facebook itself is not an innovative company. They are not.”
After the crowd finished applauding Fils-Amié for his dunk — yes, really — he went on to say that Meta “either acquired really interesting stuff, like Oculus, like Instagram, or they’ve been a quick follower of other people’s ideas.” (He does credit the company with “the very original social platform created many years ago,” but who wants to be known for it?) Which Returning to the company’s plans for the metaverse, he noted, “that’s why I look at the vision formulated so far, and I’m not a believer.”
When Chang asked if he thought people would spend all day in a virtual reality headset made by everyone, not just Meta, he said no. He said that while he’s “tried just about every VR device and just about every VR experience, I don’t think… [VR]is already ready for prime time. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but I don’t believe it will be an experience that you do 100 percent of your time, or even 100 percent of your entertainment time.”
Instead, he sees people using augmented reality all day long to interact with their digital worlds and friends, while still being present in the physical world — perhaps like the wildly successful pokemon gowhich he cites during the interview as a shining example of AR.
Part of Fils-Amié’s doubts for VR also come down to sales volume — he noted that, last he heard, total sales for VR devices totaled around 20 million. He then went on to absolutely tweak the VR industry by saying that, under his oversight, would have brought in a good year of hardware sales at Nintendo. (Ouch.)
So what does Fils-Amié think the future looks like? Fortnite, apparently, but with more AR elements. “I think the types of experiences will continue to innovate and be new and different. The example I use is Fortnite† This kind of battle royale experience has only been on the market for four years and we take it for granted. That didn’t exist four years ago.” Over the next four years, he thinks we’ll see new, “incredibly engaging” gaming experiences, and a lot more blending of the physical and digital worlds — he just doesn’t think the digital world will come from Meta.