Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Platforms Inc. is among the most vocal proponents of the metaverse’s future, but one gaming industry veteran is particularly skeptical about his vision.
“Just like the cloud five years ago and even the internet 20 years ago, every company now is trying to hold on to the metaverse,” said former Nintendo of America Inc. president and COO Reggie Fils-Aime.
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Rather than the parent company of Facebook, the digital future will be driven by smaller companies that are really innovating, while companies like Epic Games Inc. are doing “really compelling stuff,” he said.
“Facebook itself is not an innovative company,” Fils-Aime told Emily Chang at the South by Southwest event in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. “They’ve picked up cool things like Oculus and Instagram, or they’ve been quick to follow people’s ideas. I don’t think your current definition will succeed.”
A representative for Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The emergence of smaller, innovative companies that are currently in seed or funding rounds also suggests that further consolidation is ahead for the industry. Fils-Aime pointed to successful acquisitions such as Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.’s purchase of Zynga Inc. and called Microsoft Corp.’s recent bid for Activision Blizzard Inc. “a fantastic buy.”
Fils-Aime is a longtime gaming executive whose Haitian parents fled the Duvalier regime in Haiti and settled in New York. His new book ‘From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo’ talks about his upbringing, his path to Nintendo, and why he got the nickname “Regginator”.
As a black executive who rose through the ranks at a storied Japanese company, he criticized the gaming industry for not moving fast enough to address its diversity challenges.
“This is a global industry that affects 3 billion people around the world; it’s a $200 billion business,” Fils-Aime said. “The representation in the game and in leadership is not where it should be.”
Fils-Aime, who joined GameStop Corp. in 2020 and served on the board for a year, criticized the company, saying current management, led by former Chewy CEO Ryan Cohen, had rejected his ideas. At the time, he believed that the company could be successful and, with the right action and pivot to e-commerce, could better serve its customer base.
“There has not been an articulated strategy. The leadership says we don’t want to articulate our strategy because they don’t want it stolen from them,” he said. “For me that was not acceptable. Fils-Aime is no longer a GameStop shareholder, although he did not disclose when he sold his shares.”