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 a few fireballs in the direction of Mark Zuckerberg during an interview with Bloomberg‘s Emily Chang at South by Southwest this weekend, saying Meta isn’t innovative and has bought or copied almost all of her cool ideas.
So that we are all on the same page when discussing this concept, Fils-Amié defines the metaverse as “a digital space where you interact with your friends in a social and playful type environment” during his interview. (You can also read our excellent explainer on the idea here if you want to go deeper.) In general, Fils-Amié doesn’t seem too down on it – he says that Roblox is an example of something where elements of the metaverse already exist.
When it comes to the idea that Mark Zuckerberg is trying to sell us all, however, he’s not convinced. “I am not a buyer of this idea. I don’t think their current definition is going to succeed. 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 – yeah, really – he went on to say that Meta has “either acquired some really cool stuff, like Oculus, like Instagram, or they’ve been a quick follower of ideas from others.” (He credits the company with “the very original social platform that was created many years ago,” but wants to be known for this these days?) Returning to the company’s plans for the Metaverse, he commented “that’s why I’m looking at the vision that’s been articulated to date, and I’m not a believer.”
When Chang asked if he thought people would spend all day in a VR headset made by anyone, not just Meta, he said no. He said that even though he’s tried “just about every VR device and pretty much every VR experience, I don’t think [VR]is still ready for prime time. That’s not to say it won’t, but I don’t believe it’s going to be an experience that you’ll be having 100% of your time, or even 100% of your entertainment time.
Instead, it sees people using augmented reality throughout the day to interact with their digital worlds and friends, while still being present in the physical world – perhaps like the massive hit. Pokemon Gowhich he cites as a shining example of AR during the interview.
Part of Fils-Amié’s doubts about virtual reality also boil down to sales volume – he noted that, as last he heard, the all-time sales figures for reality devices virtual were about 20 million in total. He then proceeded to give absolute flexibility on the VR industry saying that under his leadership it would have made for 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 are going to continue to innovate and be new and different. The example I’m using is fortnite. This kind of battle royale experience has only been on the market for four years, and we take it for granted. Four years ago, this did not exist. Over the next four years, he thinks we’ll see “incredibly compelling” new gaming experiences, and a lot more mixing of the physical and digital world – he just doesn’t think the digital world will come from Meta.