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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Reggie Fils-Aime on the Metaverse (and Meta/Facebook) and GameStop

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - He's roasting Facebook, but is it for the right reason?

Former Nintendo of America executive and current... um... I'm not really sure what he does now besides be a foolish Twitter personality. He's promoting a new book he wrote called Disrupting the Game, I guess! Regardless, he was at South by Southwest a week and a half ago, signing MOTHER 3 cartridges and giving speeches. Here's one that a very bad media outlet (with very bad video embed technology) has gotten a hold of about the “metaverse”:

Reggie himself wanted us to watch this interview, so let's commentate on it.

Reggie defines “the metaverse”—besides as a buzzword everyone is talking about to justify any business decision—as “a digital space where you interact with your friends in a social and... I believe gaming-type of environment. So it's social. It's digital. And there's an ability to really interact with friends and people who have the potential to be your friends.” He went on to say that the metaverse is partly already here, like in Fortnite and Roblox. Epic Games certainly agrees with Reggie's assertion that Fortnite is a metaverse play—they claimed so in court.

FAKE NEWS Bloomberg's Emily Chang then brought Meta (formerly Facebook) into the discussion and asked Reggie's thoughts. Reggie said that Facebook is not an innovative company. Facebook has either acquired interesting companies (like Oculus) or they follow others’ trends (like how they steal features from Snap and TikTok).

Reggie Fils-Aime SXSW Meta Facebook metaverse virtual reality bug eyed
I just thought Reggie's expression in this screenshot is hilarious.
Also, he needs to wash his hair.

While Reggie didn't say this directly, his experience at Nintendo surely influences his thought process here. He's witnessed other companies (like Sony) steal ideas from Nintendo after Nintendo succeeds and innovates something new. Reggie says to really be innovative you need to think differently instead of copying others’ ideas.

Reggie did reference Nintendo twice, saying that every virtual reality (VR) device sold in total has been 20 million devices. (I can't independently confirm if this is the number.) 20 million might be a good one-year sell-through of Nintendo hardware. But he's clearly not into Meta's vision that virtual reality is the way to go for metaverse interactions. Reggie was notably never into virtual reality, even back when he was at Nintendo. And then he referenced Nintendo again to say that augmented reality (AR) is much more compelling, referencing the 3DS and Pokémon GO.

The reporter then asked Reggie a stupid, pointless question about how he sees VR and AR in five to ten years. Reggie said entertainment will be blending the physical and digital worlds and there'll be continued innovation. And like how Fortnite made the battle royale genre very popular four years ago, there'll be something else innovative to come later. And things will be more AR-based than VR-based. And then the clip ends and Reggie is cut off. But there is another clip from the same speech about GameStop, which Reggie was briefly a board member of.

Reggie believed that GameStop COULD be successful. Reggie wanted to be part of making the strategy for the NEW GameStop in the era of chairman Ryan Cohen. Reggie knows the gaming business from many different angles, but the new chairman Ryan Cohen rebuffed him and wanted his flunkies, who don't know the gaming business, to call the shots. Under Ryan Cohen, there is no articulated strategy. They say they don't want to communicate the strategy because someone is going to steal their ideas. But that's a stupid excuse. No one wants to steal GameStop's strategy. Everyone else is already doing fine. And if you want your partners (like the other gaming businesses) to take you seriously, you got to tell them how you're not going to end up bankrupt next year. But Chewy ain't doing that, and Reggie left the board because he didn't have a role to play.

I don't dispute anything Reggie said in the above clips, although I do dispute that Facebook can't be a metaverse leader because they aren't innovative. Sony's a gaming industry leader and they're the least innovative and interesting of the major console manufacturers. They're still a leader in social media despite Facebook being a crappy social media platform. Reggie's actual reason for not believing in Meta is because of his views on VR (which I agree with). And, yeah, the GameStop strategy thing is just laughable and it's their loss as a company.

Which technological standards and platforms one can use to participate in the metaverse isn't defined yet. That's a reason it's a fairly exciting (and fast-moving and confusing) space, though KoopaTV wouldn't have covered this discussion on it if it weren't Reggie Fils-Aime making the comments. What do you think of what he had to say?

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