In a nutshell: This year's SXSW kicked off last Friday, and over the weekend, Reggie Fils-Aimé spoke with Bloomberg on various topics, including the metaverse. While Fils-Aimé believes the metaverse is coming, he doesn't think that Facebook's current idea of it will succeed.
Former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé is not a big fan of the metaverse---at least not in the way that the company formerly known as Facebook envisions it. During a session with Bloomberg's Emily Chang on Saturday, Fils-Aimé was asked what he thought of Meta's "pivot" toward the metaverse and whether its approach would bear fruit.
"I'm not a buyer of that idea," Fils-Aimé said. "I don't think that their current definition is going to be successful."
The primary reason the Regginator predicts failure is that Meta is not innovative enough to pull it off as planned. Since the social media platform's launch, the company has not produced anything "interesting."
"Facebook itself is not an innovative company," he said, prompting an eruption of applause. "They're not. They have either acquired really interesting things, like Oculus and Instagram, or they've been a fast follower of other people's ideas."
His bold criticism did not end there. Fils-Aimé also feels that Meta is not a "consumer-first" company, which lends to its lack of innovation.
"I believe that in order to be innovative, you really need to be thinking about the consumer first, and I don't think they do. I think they think about advertising revenue first because that's 98 percent of their revenue."
Meta's vision is to socialize, play games, and even do business in virtual reality. From all appearances, its idea of the metaverse is essentially just Facebook in VR. It is not likely to attract many new or current residents of its platform to the more restrictive medium (VR).
For this to work, it requires consumer buy-in on several levels---the most important of which is purchasing a VR headset. While it has not explicitly said that it is creating its metaverse exclusively for Oculus products, it will, at the very least, push users in that direction.
Working, playing, and socializing pretty much sums up a typical day for any given person. Even the shortest one-hour work meetings exceed the recommended session time in VR. So on top of the added hardware requirement, metaverse residents would be expected to spend an extraordinary amount of time wearing a clunky VR device throughout the day.
Fils-Aimé is much more in favor of current metaverse experiences such as those you will find in Fortnite and Roblox with their virtual concerts and other social interactions. Of course, Second Life has been doing these things for a very long time.
Alternatively, the former Nintendo boss thinks augmented reality would be a better medium for the metaverse, thanks to the more lightweight and versatile AR gear that is just on the horizon.
"I'm much more of a believer in AR," Fils-Aimé explained. "I think the idea of wearing a light set [of] visual glasses and using that at different points of your day to interact with a digital experience, I believe in the end, is going to be much more compelling."
Fils-Aimé left Nintendo in April 2019. However, his former employer has not been very hyped about VR since the early failure of the Virtual Boy. As of yet, the company has no plans to dip its toe into the industry again.