Meta (formerly Facebook) might want to put on a VR headset and spend eternity in the metaverse because the company won’t want to show its face after a former Nintendo executive dressed the company down this weekend.
Former Nintendo of America COO and president Reggie Fils-Aimé took a moment at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) to rag on Meta and provide us with some not-so-favorable projections about where the company is heading. When asked about the tech giant, Fils-Aimé bluntly said it was “not an innovative company.”
“I don’t think that their current definition [of the metaverse] is going to be successful,” Fils-Aimé told Bloomberg reporter Emily Chang at SXSW. “You have to admit that Facebook itself is not an innovative company. They have either acquired really interesting things, like Oculus, like Instagram, or they’ve been a fast follower of other people’s ideas. Inherently, they are not an innovative company other than the very original social platform that was created many years ago.”
Oculus, purchased by Meta (formerly Facebook) in 2014, is the leading maker of virtual reality hardware, and its Quest 2 headset is widely considered the best product of its kind. Strong sales figures and glowing reviews are encouraging signs for Meta’s vision, but its rocky history with hardware launches makes Fils-Aimé doubt whether these early successes will continue as other competitors enter the market. He claims the Facebook Portal “wasn’t a big idea” and says the 20 million or so VR headsets sold to date would have been a good single-year sales figure during his time at Nintendo.
“The last number I saw was that, in total—and not just Oculus—in total, about 20 million VR devices have been sold,” he said. “When I was running Nintendo, that was a good year, one year, in terms of hardware sell-through.”
While the former Nintendo executive believes the metaverse will become a larger part of our lives—and says some elements already exist (citing Fortnite and Roblox)—Fils-Aimé doesn’t think Meta will be leading the way. He says that to be in order to be innovative, companies need to prioritize customers and bring fresh ideas into the marketplace, but that instead of doing so, Meta has put ad revenue above all else.
Fils-Aimé said he favors augmented reality over virtual reality when asked about what devices we’ll be using in the future. The ideal product, in his eyes, is a lightweight set of glasses that let you interact with a “digital experience,” something the former exec finds more compelling than a bulky VR headset.