For the past few months Meta (formerly Facebook) has been evangelizing its vision of the metaverse, but not everyone is buying it. The latest critic is former Nintendo of America COO and president Reggie Fils-Aimé, who laid down some serious smack recently. Speaking at the South by Southwest festival in Texas, Fils-Aimé took shots at Meta as a company and its vision for the future. His comments are the harshest we’ve seen thus far from an industry veteran, making him the latest in a chorus of skeptics who are dismissive of Zuckerberg’s future plans.
“I don’t think that their current definition [of the metaverse] is going to be successful, Fils-Aimé told Bloomberg’s Emily Chang. And the reason why? He continued, “Facebook itself is not an innovative company. They have either acquired interesting things like Oculus and Instagram, or they’ve been a fast follower of people’s ideas. I don’t think their current definition will be successful,” he said. Fils-Aimé stated that he thinks smaller and more innovative companies will be driving future innovation. In particular he praised Epic Games for its work on Fortnite, which many see as a metaverse already.
However, as Gizmodo points out, Meta has sold a metric crapload of Quest headsets. Also, the Quest 2 is still arguably the best VR headset available when pricing is taken into consideration. That puts Meta in a good position to be the stepping stone into the metaverse. Regardless, Meta’s sales figures didn’t impress Fils-Aimé at all. “The last number I saw was that, in total—and not just Oculus—in total, about 20 million VR devices have been sold,” he said. “When I was running Nintendo, that was a good year, one year, in terms of hardware sell-through.” Ouch.
The main issue according to Fils-Aimé is that at the end of the day, Meta is an advertising company. In his line of thinking, in order to succeed in creating a metaverse they’d have to focus on the customer. Designing a metaverse would require them to totally rethink their approach to things, in other words. Given that he thinks the company isn’t really innovative, that’s a tall order. It’s also unlikely the company will be able to buy their way into future success like they’ve done in the past. That’s due to their current legal troubles and concerns over antitrust violations.
Fils-Aimé is the latest high profile gaming executive to cast aspersions on the metaverse, and he’s in good company. Ken Kutaragi, former CEO and Chairman of Sony’s gaming division called headsets “annoying,” in January. Notable Apple reporter Mark Gurman has also stated that the Apple’s upcoming Virtual Reality (VR) headset will not be metaverse friendly. His sources have told him Zuckerberg’s vision of getting lost in VR all day is anathema to Apple’s values. Instead, its headset will enable short bursts of gaming, which favors a better work/life balance. Apple is also supposedly designing Augmented Reality (AR) glasses, which Fils-Aimé said he think is the ideal solution for a “digital experience.”
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