SXSW kicked off this weekend, and former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé was in attendance at the show to talk to Bloomberg's Emily Chang about disruption in the entertainment and leisure markets.
During the interview, Reggie — now non-executive director for Spin Master Inc. and Brunswick Corp. — was asked about his thoughts on the metaverse, the ephemeral 'network' of 3D worlds touted to link us all digitally and socially in fascinating new ways... maybe. Or perhaps it'll be more like Second Life but the Batman and Spider-Man chilling the beans together. Yes, in the future IP lawyers will surely run everything.
For his part, Reggie believes that elements of the metaverse already exist in games like Fortnite and Roblox, as we have performers, artists, and people interacting in a digital space. But when quizzed on Facebook's approach to the metaverse, he was more skeptical.
"I'm not a buyer of that idea. I don't think that their current definition is going to be successful."
Reggie then goes on to say that Facebook is not an "innovative company", stating that the reason why is because “they have either acquired interesting things like Oculus, like Instagram, or they’ve been a fast follower of people’s ideas.” Bold words from the Reggienator, there.
Last year, Mark Zuckerburg announced that The Facebook Company would be changing its name to Meta Platforms, which signifies its shifting interest in the medium. There's a sense that the concept is very much just a business buzzword, though, with many obstacles — technical and legal — that would make a 'metaverse' hugely impractical to realise in an interesting, engaging way. Indeed, many gaming companies have been pushing back against the idea of the metaverse.
Reggie believes, however, that smaller companies will be the pioneers of the digital future, as they are the ones that are "really innovating". He also praises Epic Games and what they've achieved with Fortnite over the last four years, and says that Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard was "fantastic".
Current Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has spoken about the metaverse in a recent Q&A at their financial briefing earlier this year, and has said that while they are interested, "there is no easy way to define specifically what kinds of surprises and enjoyment the metaverse can deliver to our consumers."
Do you agree with Reggie's comments on the metaverse? Let us know what you think in the comments!