Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Platforms Inc. is one of the most vocal proponents of the metaverse’s future, but one gaming industry veteran is particularly skeptical about his vision.
Like the cloud five years ago and even the internet 20 years ago, every company is now trying to hold on to the metaverse, said former Nintendo of America Inc. president and COO Reggie Fils-Aime. Instead of parent company Facebook, the digital future will be driven by smaller companies that are really innovating, while companies like Epic Games Inc. are doing “really cool” things, 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 stuff like Oculus and Instagram, or they’ve been quick to follow people’s ideas. I don’t think his current definition will succeed.”
A representative for Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The rise of smaller, innovative companies currently in seed or funding rounds also suggests 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 purchase.”
Fils-Aime is a longtime gaming executive whose Haitian parents fled the Duvalier regime in Haiti and settled in New York. His new book, “Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo,” talks about his upbringing, his path to Nintendo, and why he got the nickname “Reginator.”
As a black executive who rose through the ranks of 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. “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 succeed, and with the right action and the shift to e-commerce, it could better satisfy 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. “To me that was not acceptable.”
Fils-Aime is no longer a GameStop shareholder, although it did not disclose when it sold its shares.